2021-22 Winter Preview: Republic Wrestling

By Kary Booher (For OzarksSportsZone.com)

Over the years, you could always count on wrestlers from Republic High School competing hard, with a few advancing to the state tournament, if not bringing home some hardware.

However, now the responsibility of repeating that storyline – and improving on it – falls on the Tigers’ first new coach in 15 years.

That would be Eric Nolan. Not that this is his first rodeo, so to speak. He’s been a head coach for 13 seasons, with stops at Warsaw, Buffalo and Marceline high schools in Missouri and Har-Ber in Arkansas. His teams won 174 duals.

He was an All-State wrestler at Marceline.

“I am excited for this opportunity and plan to grow the program by evaluating each level (youth, middle school and high school) and taking steps to make them better,” Nolan said.

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Projected roster

Republic anticipates about 40 wrestlers on the roster at the start of the season. That includes eight who saw a decent amount of varsity time last season.

However, none qualified for the state tournament last year, and Republic graduated two who did. Additionally, of the 22 guys listed as potential starters, 16 are either sophomores or freshmen.

In other words, this will be a season when Nolan may have to remind the wrestlers themselves of the old saying that, “It’s not how you start but how you finish.”

The projected roster could be sophomores Phillip George and Xander McClelland at 106 pounds, followed by McClelland (113), senior Dominic Famiano and sophomore Caden Allen (120), junior Quentin Bailey and freshman Shea Rogers (126), sophomore Jacob Simpson and freshman Ryland Rogers (132), sophomores Brennan Coleman and Simpson (138), and freshman Tanner Gonzalez (145).

In the upper weights, look for sophomore Manning Wilkens and freshman Chase Hicks (152), sophomore Maddux Wilkens (160), junior Connor Sandridge (170), senior Isaac Colyott and sophomore Max Davis (182), sophomore Jon Frost and freshman Jon Wilson (195), senior Elijah Hathcock (220) and senior Isaac Gyles and sophomore Gabe Yates (285).

George was 14-10 last season.

“I’m looking forward to seeing Phillip compete this year after seeing his ability during practice,” Nolan said. “He has a lot of potential and has spent some time on the mats this summer. We’re hoping that he can be a leader amongst our group of lightweights.”

Sandridge was 29-3 a year ago.

“Connor is a strong and physical kid that is eager to compete,” Nolan said. “He is a three-sport varsity athlete, which speaks volumes to his athleticism. Last year, he came up a little short of qualifying for the state tournament, and I think he’s driven to extend his season into the state tournament this year.”

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Sleepers?

“Brennan Coleman, Maddux Wilkens, and Manning Wilkens are a solid group of sophomores that displayed dedication during the offseason,” Nolan said. “They are all hard-nosed kids that have the desire to compete. I feel that they bring qualities to the team that we need to build around, like strong character and self-accountability.”

Shea Rogers, Gonzalez, Ryland Rogers and Hicks have youth club experience.

Goals

“Our goals are to see improvement at all phases of the program,” Nolan said. “Our success in accomplishing this will be largely dependent on developing wrestlers at the youth and middle school levels, while also establishing high expectations at the high school level.”

He went on.

“I expect that we’ll have a season full of challenges and improvement,” Nolan said. “We are a young team, but I think we have some guys that are eager to earn future success.”

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