By Jan Schultz
The Imperial Republican
The 15 wrestlers competing for spots on the high school team represent a big jump in numbers from previous seasons.
That’s a 50 percent jump from last year’s 10 team members at the start of the season. However, with injuries, transfers and ineligibility, the season ended with four or five competing. In 2012, the high school team had four wrestlers.
Looking at this year’s numbers even further, the seven freshmen on the 2014 team represent the largest group in that class Head Coach Matt Vlasin has had since he’s handled the Longhorn team coaching.
That means for a young team this season.
Just one senior, Jake Lueth, is on the team but has 90 days of ineligibility due to transferring back to CCS from Wray, Colo. There, he placed sixth at the Colorado state tournament.
Lueth will be able to compete in JV level competition and will be doing that until he’s varsity eligible.
There’s also just one junior and six sophomores on the roster.
Chase County opens its season tonight (Thursday) when the team travels to a triangular with Garden County and Bridgeport in Oshkosh.
Wrestling begins at 5:30 p.m.
With not much rest in between, the Longhorns then travel to Saturday’s Broken Bow Invitational which starts at 8:30 a.m.
Asst. Coach Jeff Rusher said they have been happy with how the team is working at practice.
“We have a bunch of guys who are pushing each other. They are team oriented,” he said.
Being at practice and working hard there will be important, he added, because most of the wrestlers don’t have much high school experience yet to rely on.
“It will be important to be in shape” and use that as an advantage, Rusher said.
Of the 14 weight classes, Rusher believes they will fill nine of them for varsity competition.
“We’re kind of bunched up in the lower weights,” he said.
That required four wrestle-offs Tuesday to determine varsity spots for this week.
With both the triangular and tournament this week with JV divisions, Rusher expects all who are eligible to wrestle on Saturday and is hopeful they all get at least one match Thursday.
One new tournament on the schedule this season comes after the new year when the Longhorns compete at the two-day Chadron Invite Jan. 23-24.
Coach Vlasin said Chadron replaces the Lexington tourney they’ve gone to in the past.
They switched because they’ll see more district competition in Chadron, Vlasin said. Chadron will also provide competition with schools more their size. Lexington often drew a lot of Class A and B schools.
“But, like Lexington, it’s still going to be a tough tournament at Chadron,” he said.
Several South Dakota schools are expected to be in the mix with those from Nebraska, he added.
Vlasin said they had also hoped to switch out of the Sidney/Bridgeport tournament Dec. 20 and replace it with one in Wray, Colo., due to a dwindling number of teams in Sidney. They may make further efforts at that for 2015 depending on how the team numbers look this year in Sidney.
Perkins County will host the SPVA Conference meet this season on Feb. 5.
The Longhorns will have to travel to Mitchell for the C4 district tournament Feb. 13-14.
Here is the full roster of wrestlers listed by class.
Sophomores—Colton Burpo, Roper Cochran, Bryson Fisher, Zach Space, Dakota Colton, Angel Hinojosa.
Freshmen—Jose Medrano, Jayden German, Caleb Weiss, Jorge Cervantes, Caine Haarberg, Blake Schilke, Eli Hinojosa.