By Jan Schultz
The Imperial Republican
Wrestling will get off to a quick start this week, as the Longhorns travel to a triangular at Oshkosh tonight (Thursday) and to the team’s first big tournament at Broken Bow Saturday.
Matt Vlasin returns as head coach this season, and a volunteer coach from last year, Rob Lueth, is assistant coach.
Chase County has a roster of 12 wrestlers this season, but not all of them will be on the varsity list in Oshkosh for the opener Thursday. Two are recovering from injuries, and two others likely will be wrestling JV, he said.
With only eight expected to suit up for the varsity matches this week, Vlasin said the team will be open at 103, 125, 135, 145, 189 and 215.
Vlasin couldn’t say what that will mean for the opener Thursday, but if the other two opposing teams, Garden County and Bridgeport, have similar numbers to last year, they’ll just have seven or eight on the mat, too.
“So if that’s the case, it should be a good double dual this year,” Vlasin said.
Action at Garden County High School starts at 5:30 p.m. on the following schedule:
Garden County vs. Chase County
Bridgeport vs. Chase County
Garden County vs. Bridgeport
Broken Bow’s Invitational Saturday is expected to be the annual tough meet it always is, Vlasin said. However, despite some inexperience on the Chase County team, the Longhorns could have a few wrestlers in the top two to three there, he said.
Action at Broken Bow will get underway about 8:30 a.m. MT. There are both JV and varsity divisions.
All three of Chase County’s state qualifiers last year graduated, but several of the wrestlers have a lot of varsity experience, Vlasin said.
Keithan Cochran, Jeremiah Lueth, Nathan Hinojosa and Trevor Fuehrer all were on the varsity mats a lot last season, Vlasin noted. Freshman Michael May also wrestled in junior high and several years in kids’ federation before that, he noted.
Vlasin believes a lot of the returners this year would have liked to be at state last year “and are hungry to get there” this year.
That’s resulted in some good work at practices, Vlasin said.
The team is in pretty good condition, Vlasin said, helped by an early conclusion to the football season. The wrestlers started to condition on their own before official wrestling practices could start, which allowed them to start working on technique a lot earlier once practice did start, Vlasin said.
Tyler Roenfeldt, one of three seniors out, will not be on the mat for several weeks as he recovers from a shoulder injury. Doctors have encouraged him to rest it some more to avoid surgery, and he may not be able to compete until after Christmas. He has been doing drills and some running, but no contact yet, Vlasin said.
Another wrestler not expected to compete this week is junior Jesse Ferebee. He had been practicing with the team, but has been bothered with back pain recently, so was scheduled for an MRI this week, Vlasin said. His status was uncertain. He was in a vehicle accident last year just after the opening week of wrestling.
Sophomore Jared Knobbe, who wrestled last year, won’t be back at all this season due to an ACL tear.
The high school team is also sporting its first female member. Freshman Makayla Bell is out for the squad, after wrestling last year as an eighth grader.
Vlasin said they are now seeing more teams with girls on the roster. Most are from the eastern part of the state, but Southern Valley has a girl on the team, too. In the state Class A tournament last year, a female took one of the runner-up medals, he noted.
Vlasin said Bell’s ambitious and willing to learn.
Chase County has just two appearances at home this season, fairly close together. They’ll host Ogallala for a dual on Jan. 14, with the Imperial Invitational two days later on Jan. 16.
The Longhorns will compete in Class C again, and districts Feb. 12-13 will be in Hershey. Last year, the team had to travel to Gordon for the district tournament.
One schedule change will be the elimination of the Holyoke dual. That has been replaced with a dual with Fleming, Colo., in Fleming Jan. 21.
Here is the roster of Longhorn wrestlers this season, listed by class:
Seniors—Tyler Roenfeldt, Andrei Rodriguez, Steven Way.
Juniors—Keithan Cochran, Jeremiah Lueth, Nathan Hinojosa, Trevor Fuehrer, Misael Garcia, Jesse Ferebee.
Freshmen—Michael May, Makayla Bell.