By Kary Booher (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Think David Myers is raising the bar for his Joplin High School wrestling team? Well, put it this way – he’s bringing in two assistant coaches who he once coached.
“They know the system. And when they speak, it’s on point with what I would say,” Myers said of Aaron Brown and Noah Hembree. “They have a passion for the sport.”
The same could be said of Myers, now in his 10th year in the program and his sixth as head coach. Given that he is a product of the Seneca High School wrestling program – he was a two-time state placer before graduating in 2002 – he’s been methodically building the program.
“It took some time to get the kids to buy in,” Myers said. “Now the kids are starting to know what’s expected of them.”
This year he’s anticipating 50 wrestlers during opening week, a huge improvement. Back are four state qualifiers in 138-pound senior Bobby Owens, 182-pound Jacob Bartlett, 220-pound junior Jadyn Withrow and 285-pound junior Jacob Booe.
Bartlett may drop to 170. Regardless, he figures to do some damage in the postseason, given a shoulder injury cut short his state tournament. He had wrestled through pain for weeks apparently.
“He’s by far one of the toughest kids I’ve ever coached,” Myers said. “He didn’t even let anyone know his shoulder was bothering him. But his work ethic is beyond any kid I’ve ever coached. He’s a guy who I’ll give advice to and he says, ‘OK,’ and goes out and does it.
“With Bartlett in the room, that transfers to other guys. He’s kind of a silent leader.”
Owens was a state qualifier two years ago.
“He did really well last year,” Myers said. “And he spent all summer with us in wrestling. I think he’s doing to do well. He should be on the podium (at state).”
Withrow fell just short of the medal rounds at state last year.
“He’ll be pretty solid this year,” Myers said. “We hope to get him to the podium.”
Booe could be something, too.
“He comes in weighing 260 to 265 and doesn’t have a lot of body fat,” Myers said. “All four of those guys, they’ll be leaders on the team.”
The rest of the projected lineup includes Reese Macios, Josh Vaughn and Derrick Brooks at 106, Nicholas Vange (113), Jonathan Liu (120), Derrick Brozek (126), junior Da Ron Morgan (132), senior Terry Shuey and juniors Brayden Williams and Keaton Bradley at 145 and Lucas Kuechnel (195). Freshmen are at 106 to 126.
Other names include Ben Woodman, Deric Woodman, as well as Matthew Jewell, Nathan Glades, Jayden Holt, Mason Legg, Michael Huddleston, Davis Ramsey and Alex Curry.
“Our freshmen are going to be real good,” Myers said. “A lot of them are fairly new to the sport. But they’re good athletes, and a few came up from the kids club.”
Overall, it could be a winter to remember.
“It’s going to be a good season,” Myers said. “I think we’ll be competitive.”