“We were knocked off our pedestal last year,” said Wyss. “This season, we will get back to the top.”
Beginning October 31, Wyss held week-long tryouts with the hopes of building the foundation of a championship-caliber team. Said Wyss, “Those are the times when we define our team. When I narrow it down, I’m looking for those guys who want to win, are willing to work at it and will come away with W’s at the end of the day.”
At tryouts, Wyss begins by getting his squad into shape by having them run bleachers, hills, laps, sprints and more. “They’re physically demanding to say the least,” said Wyss. “Not only do we condition, but we start strength training in the weight room and learning our strategy for the year.”
CJ Kimmerly, junior and co-captain, described tryouts as a place where new wrestlers can start learning the sport. “Guys come in here and have to learn the basics before anything else. Of course, we get in shape too, but this week really gives them a chance to decide if wrestling is for them or not,” said Kimmerly.
Wyss and Kimmerly both agreed then that this year’s tryouts were more important than ever, as over half of the squad is made up of inexperienced freshmen and sophomores.”We do have a lot of freshman, but they have potential,” said Kimmerly.
Wyss sees that inexperience as a challenge to his team. “We’ll have to work even harder to make up for that lack of experience though because we need some of these guys to step up for us,” said Wyss.
Another twist this year is the inclusion of new weight classes. When wrestlers are matched up at meets, they are paired based on their weight class, or the range of weight they fall into. Having athletes cut and gain weight to move up and down through these classes is an important strategical technique the Pride must understand if they hope to win the conference.
Zach Cates, senior and co-captain, acknowledged that understanding and utilizing the new weight classes will give the Pride an upper hand on their competition. “If we know we have the opportunity to cut down and win a class, we need to do it and take those points,” said Cates. “Everything adds up, so to give ourselves the most favorable matchups, we need to understand what we’re dealing with.”
The changes in the weight classes may not appear significant at first, but they are the key to a Pride championship this year. Each of the classes has grown by three pounds, allowing for stronger wrestlers to bump up or cut down to secure a victory in classes with weaker competition.
New weight classes, a young team–Coach Wyss is not concerned. “As long as we work our tails off, perform up to our standards, and stay focused, we should compete for the Cap-8,” said Wyss.
“It’’ll be tough, but I’m confident we can do it,” said Cates. “Our guys have what it takes and as long as we stay on track, we have a great chance to be conference champs.”