OLATHE – Friday night’s competition inside the Olathe West gymnasium was action packed with lots of newcomers to go along with a few experienced girls wrestlers.
It was the first matches of the year for many of the competitors from the few schools that participated. Some jitters or lack of rules were on display at times, but what wasn’t lacking was effort.
That was what impressed Olathe West coach Troy Vincent and Olathe North coach Dylan Hitchcock. Both coaches have squads filled with first-year wrestlers, but both left the round-robin type competition pleased with what they saw.
“Effort and energy was there,” Hitchcock said. “One of the things we’ve got to clean up is if you don’t hear a whistle, you have to continue to wrestle. Another is when you get taken down, making sure you’re going to your stomach. It’s a lot of the basic stuff. But, the intensity was there, so there are definitely things we can build off of.”
For Olathe West, it was its second-straight night of competition. The Owls began the season Thursday with a 59-0 win over Topeka West.
Less than 24 hours later, they were back home and ready to compete again.
“I’m super proud of the effort the girls put in,” Vincent said. “The varsity girls came in and made weight two days in a row. That’s awesome, especially considering we have seven new girls on varsity who have never wrestled before. Making weight two days in a row – super proud of them for that. They came out and competed today. I saw a lot of good things and I saw a lot of room for growth. I’m super excited for the rest of the way the season is going to go.”
The matches were divided into three rounds where every wrestler competed in at least one, but mostly two – if not three – matches. There were nearly 70 matches in total, all on a single mat with fans and teammates cheering loudly for a few hours on a Friday evening.
Nearly every match in the first round ended in a pin, with most of those coming in the first round. The second and third rounds were filled with longer, grueling matches that tested the conditioning level of each opponent.
In addition to the two Olathe schools, the other competing teams were Blue Valley, Mill Valley and Shawnee Mission North. Each of the five schools won matches during the night, but the pair of Olathe schools used their depth and talent to prevail with more victories than their opponents.
There were no official stats when it comes to wins, but both teams were happy with the results.
“We had five girls out last year and 22 this year, so it was a lot of girls’ first wrestling matches,” Hitchcock said. “I told them I was just looking for them to just compete, because in just three weeks, they’re probably not going to have all of the technique down or really understand everything that’s going on, but they can go out there and compete.
“I was extremely happy with that. Our younger girls or inexperienced girls really competed hard. Our more advanced girls really got to their offense that we really preach. It was a great first night.”
Vincent was also pleased, but said after the meet he plans to go rewatch the matches before the next practice. He is a big proponent of watching film to correct mistakes for future matches.
“After every meet, I go home and I watch every single match,” Vincent said. “I have a yellow legal pad in my book and I write notes from every single mistake I see in matches, and we come in the next day, watch film and correct them. That’s how I build my practices for the next week.
“They are intensive. They want to learn and they want to get better. They have really fallen in love with the sport and jumped in head first, and I’m super happy about it.”
– story by Jimmy Gillispie