By Kary Booher (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Back in 2015, when coach Marty Hauck arrived to coach the Rolla High School wrestling program, he had the energy of someone half his age.
So you can only imagine that he has more heading into this winter months with a returning state champion in the room.
Hauck estimates that more than 100 wrestlers will be in the room in the early season for a program that returns 10 starters, including five state medalists. This after the boys and girls teams each won 16 duals.
On the boys side, look for 132-pound junior Nate Pulliam, a junior who was 27-0 en route to winning the Ozark Conference, a district title and a state championship.
“(Pulliam) is in the best form he has been in up to date,” Hauck said. “He placed 4th at Fargo over the summer and has concentrated on wrestling this summer more than ever.”
The other returning state medalists are junior Xander Sederburg (120), senior Zack Fennel (126), sophomore Hayden Fane (170) and senior Colton Franks (182).
Sederburg was 45-6 last year, placing fifth at state and winning an OC championship.
“He had his best off season he has had,” Hauck said.
Fennell was 25-3, placing fourth at state and winning a conference title, too.
“Fennell is a three-time returning state placer who is looking for that championship,” Hauck said. “He has had a great fall, and I am looking forward to watching him his senior campaign.”
Fane finished 34-11, won the OC and placed fifth at the state tournament.
“He was recovering from an injury,” Hauck said, “so we are excited to see what he can do if he can stay healthy.”
Franks placed sixth at the state tournament, finishing 35-16. That marked Franks’ first state medal.
“He has a whole new level of potential he has shown himself over the off season,” Hauck said.
The rest of the projected lineup could include: sophomore Hunter Hoffman (106), junior Billy Cowan (113), senior Dathan Mickem (138), senior Wyatt Sowers (145) and sophomore Andre Ridenhour (152). The upper weights could see junior Titus Taylor (160), junior Victor Nam (195), senior David Rogers (220) and senior Justin Briggs (heavyweight division).
Hoffman was an OC champion, too, and had 30 wins in 42 matches. Mickem won 27 matches, Sowers 31, Ridenhour 29 and Taylor 18. Briggs was a state qualifier as a sophomore but was injured last year.
Hoffman, Ridenhour and Mickem have all been within a match of qualifying for the state tournament. Hoffman lost in overtime at districts to the eventual fourth-place state finishers.
“Hopefully these guys can stay healthy and keep progressing the way that they have been,” Hauck said.
On the girls side, Rolla expects to have a full lineup. It will feature Hannah O’Connor, who was a state qualifier last season but was pulled from competition because of an injury. The team also added a women’s assistant coach.
“She is hungrier this year and is looking to be on the stand. We had a few girls one match away from being a qualifier last year and have been in the room and worked this off season, unlike last year,” Hauck said. “We have some really athletic girls that have joined us as well, which will make an impact in our lineup right away I have a feeling.”