By Kary Booher (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Rolla wrestling continues to ascend under head coach Marty Hauck. The Bulldogs have had a lot of success recently and this season started practice in a brand, spanking new 84 foot-by-42-foot wrestling room that fits two mats.
Oh, and now the team has two paid assistant coaches, with Kyle Meyer, a four-time state champion from Monett and Stanford University national qualifier, joining Jeremy Jamison. A volunteer assistant joined, too, in Brendon Fox, a four-time state champion who also wrestled at Stanford.
“It’s great,” Hauck said with the happiness of a kid on a sugar rush. Of the new room, he called it, “top of the line.”
“We’ve been bringing kids in left and right, and it’s been selling itself,” Hauck said.
Obviously, the additions could be great for the sport and especially for Hauck, who loves coaching. A year ago, Rolla finished ninth in Class 3 and had four placers.
This from a coach who from 2007 to 2015 coached his alma mater, St. James, where the teams had 88 dual wins in his tenure and sent five to the Class 2 state tournament his final year.
He’s anticipating 80 wrestlers on the opening day roster, or 10 more than a year ago, although attrition could whittle the number down to 45 to 50.
Still, there’s much to build around, such as returning state placers Zack Fennell (120) and Coleman Brainard (138).
A senior, Brainard has placed second, third and sixth in each of the past three seasons. He was wrestling up a weight class last year.
“He’s right where he needs to be,” Hauck said. “His offseason has been great.”
Fennell placed sixth as a freshman last season but should be better equipped this year to handle the drama of a state tournament. He later qualified for the summer Fargo, N.D., tournament and competed well in Wisconsin.
“We saw a huge jump in him,” Hauck said.
The roster includes returning starters in Anthony Sederburg (106), Dathan Mickem (126), Justin MacEnaney (132), Lucas Lambeth (145), Bryce O’Connor (160), Jacob Phillips (170), Colton Franks (182), Jacob Dobkins (195) and Justin Briggs (285). The varsity also could see Ian Dobkins (152) and Aaron Mercer (220).
Sederburg, a junior, could be one to watch. He was a two-time state champion in USA Kids wrestling and won a national tournament in Tulsa. But he was only 78 pounds his freshman year and suffered a collarbone injury a year ago.
“It’s going to be interesting to see what he can do,” Hauck said.
Franks was one match from advancing to state last year, and Phillips may shine after being blocked the past few years by Seth Veatch, a multiple state qualifier.
But no varsity slots are guaranteed, what with Hauck recruiting the hallways and showcasing the new wrestling room.
“We have some kids who can compete and win some spots,” Hauck said. “That’s going to make the room better. Guys will have to worry about that guy next to them. And that makes it fun.”