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Season Preview: Experienced Wrestling Team Looks Forward to Success

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Season Preview: Experienced Wrestling Team Looks Forward to Success

Head Coach Michael Jernigan watches as his team practices.

Head Coach Michael Jernigan watches as his team practices.

Eli McCabe

Head Coach Michael Jernigan watches as his team practices.

Eli McCabe

Eli McCabe

Head Coach Michael Jernigan watches as his team practices.

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Seven. Four. One.

Seven state qualifiers, four state medalists, and one state champion. This is emphasized by Westside’s wrestling head coach Michael Jernigan. If the team were to meet all of this, they would be in a position to be a top-10 ranked team.

Success as a team comes only when there is a strong work ethic as a team. Jernigan said he hopes that this is the case and that his wrestlers can come together and work hard during the rest of their preseason. Along with work ethic, leadership is stressed as well among the experienced athletes.

“Through those qualities, our athletes are that much better than the common person, and we are more likely to get the gold in the end,” Jernigan said.

Westside wrestling is bringing back four former state qualifiers, and three who were able to qualify last year which brings some experience to the table. It also places themselves as leaders. Seniors Nolan Miller-Johnston, Michael Colling and Matt Onken have all been to state before, and are expected by their coach to push themselves even harder this year. Along with this group, sophomore Cade Haberman was also able to qualify as a freshman in the 220 pound weight class.

“All of these returners are coming back with state tournament experience and they want to push the envelope this year and be a state medalist,”Jernigan said. “Their experiences can spread through the program and only make our program better.”

Although Michael Colling wasn’t able to be a state qualifier last year, he is expected to play a large role in the team’s success this year.

“It was one of those years that the top five guys were in his district and he ended up (placing) fifth,” Jernigan said. “Michael will have to work hard but he knows what it takes mentally to be on top.”

The team is not just the state qualifiers, there was a large number of freshman that showed up to the preseason meeting, and this excites Jernigan as he hopes that this is a common occurrence.

“Having depth at such a young age can really be beneficial to our program. Jernigan said. “They are learning about our culture really fast and they are accepting it well.”

Although some may not be able to make the adjustment from middle to high school, the coaches are proud of what they have been able to teach the young men and women in the program.

“Even if we lose a few in the future , they will take what we have taught them into the real word and they will be successful.”

The first wrestling meet will be on Friday, November 30, at the Blair Invitational hosted at Blair High School.

 

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