Bolivar wrestling has a new head coach, but he is far from new to coaching. Jeff Davis takes over the Liberator wrestling program after spending the last five years at Park Hill High School in Kansas City. He was at Waynesville for the 15 years prior to that.
Bolivar’s small town atmosphere helped attract him to the job.
“I wanted to go to a small school and build something special. My family is really more small town folks and it was way more our speed. Bolivar is considerably closer to some of my family in Waynesville which is a bonus,” Davis said. “Coach (Glen) Johnson played a huge part being the faith based type of person that he is and Coach Schrader sent me a few lists of why we should be Liberators. Ultimately many things came together and I believe that there was a reason for that.”
He has a good core of returning wrestlers as he tries to build the Liberator program into a state power.
It starts with junior Hayden Burks who was the state runner-up at 160 pounds last year posting a 50-6 record in the process.
“Hayden worked his tail off this summer and made some really positive improvements to his wrestling along with many of the other boys,” Davis said. “My expectation is that he lead our team in a positive direction and continues to improve each and every day.”
Senior Granite Cunningham is Bolivar’s only other returning placer after taking fifth place at 106 pounds last year. He finished with a record of 45-7.
“I think Granite has set some really high goals for himself this season and much like Hayden I expect him to lead our program in the right direction for the future,” Davis said. “Granite has put more time into wrestling than ever before, and I think that he will get to see that hard work paying off in February.”
Senior Zack Sokolik and junior Riley Hawk are the final returning state qualifiers for Bolivar. Sokolik went 1-2 at the state tournament last year at 120 pounds to finish with a 25-19 record. Hawk had a 32-18 record at 132 pounds.
Sophomore Drayton Hutchman and Jack Roweton are two wrestlers that have impressed Davis in the offseason.
“Drayton and Jack, along with (Hayden) Burks, never missed a workout this summer. They also attended a few camps on top of that, they are both tow way starters in football and I believe that will help their confidence this season,” Davis said.
Hutchman and Roweton will slot in at 220 and 285 pounds.
Junior Jacob Matlock (135 pounds) and sophomore Canyon Cunningham (113 pounds) are two more wrestlers who saw varsity time last year.
One key new face to the room will be junior Austin Coons. Coons transferred in from Odessa where he was a two-time state runner-up. He fell to Monett’s Karter Brink in the Class 2 120-pound final. Davis expects him to wrestle around 145 pounds this year.
“He (Coons) is an outstanding young man that I have been around for years through USA wrestling and off season training,” Davis said. “He is the real deal and is going to make a very positive impact of our athlete’s this year.”
Freshmen Logan Rice (120 or 126 pounds) and Deagan Simms (132 or 138 pounds) should also factor into the varsity lineup.
Davis will be looking for his new team to work hard each day to keep a strong tradition of Bolivar wrestling going.
“It is my expectation that kids show up each and every day ready to learn, work hard and fight as hard as possible,” Davis said. “I have been given some really solid kids from Coach (Glen) Johnson on and off the mat I’m looking forward to helping them get to the next level and continuing the excellent Bolivar wrestling tradition.”