By Chris Parker
Diamond wrestling returns three of its five state qualifiers from last year’s team.
That group is led by Kolbe Jones who was 37-6 last year coming up just one win short of a medal at 126 pounds in Class 1.
“Kolbe is more focused. He was upset about not getting on the medal stand last year. I am looking forward to a hungrier and focused wrestler,” Diamond wrestling coach Bill Gray said. “I expect him to be near the top of the medal stand every time he goes to the mat. He will be focused on details and wrestling his match every time he steps on the mat.”
Jones will look to return to 126 pounds this year, but might wrestle 132 pounds early in the season.
Seniors John Odom and Cameron Addington also return after qualifying for state last year. Odom qualified at 132 and Addington at 138.
“I think both guys learned the level of competition that have to wrestle out every time. They excelled through the season, but had their eyes opened in a good way when we got to the state tournament recognizing that every detail is important,” Gray said. “Once they settle into a weight division I expect both guys to make a run and return to the state tournament and building off their experience from last year reach the medal stand.”
Odom will be in the 132 or 138 weight class range while Addington wrestles 145 or 152.
That trio will provide the core of leadership for Diamond.
“They get after each other during practice. Each one has a distinct style and it forces the other to get outside of their comfort zone which makes them better wrestlers,” Gray said. “These guys are quiet leaders. It is do as I do, not what I say kind of thing. They will need to step up as vocal leaders making sure the whole room is pushing each other and improving every day at practice.”
Austin Behler returns for his senior season at 120 pounds. He was a state qualifier in 2018. Landon Clement just missed the state tournament as a freshman. He will look to get one step further at 160 pounds this year. The junior trio of Jayce Taylor (182/195), Cody Behler (138/145) and Triston Kralicek (132/138/145) all return as well.
Tyler May is a newcomer at 220 pounds. The sophomore is a move-in from Garden City, Kan.
The girls team will be going from one last year to four or five this year. Bri Moodie (senior), Allyson Brouillard (junior), Allie Danner (freshman) and Allison Calentine (freshman) will be out for the girls team this year.
“I think the comradery and the work ethic in the room will make us better every time out. They cheer as hard for each other as they push each other in the room. We have a team pride that we are building something the school and the community can be proud of,” Gray said.
Gray has big goals for his team this year.
“Last year we finished one place outside the team medalist at almost every tournament we went to. I want them to have the success as a team and can bring back a trophy to show the rest of the school that we are pretty good and are getting better. We want to set a school record for state attendees, the most is Diamond has ever taken is six (2011/2012) last year we took five. Looking at the roster we could get as many as eight and we expect to make it happen,” Gray said.
To accomplish this, Diamond wrestling will have to fully embrace the Battlecat mentality.
“We rebranded the team two years ago. We are still Wildcats, but we refer to the wrestling team as the Battlecats. The kids sat down and defined what a Battlecat is and we go over it every season since and define the expectations and it has proved to benefit us in the room,” Gray said. “We are still in the building process. We have broken records for dual wins the last two seasons and improved our tournament finishes, but this is a hungry group and they want to put their mark on the program so we are looking for a great season.”