With COVID-19 remaining a problem across the state, Claremore wrestling has experienced some ups and downs this season. Zebras coach Chad Willard gave the Progress insight to some of those.
1. How has your team handled the multiple postponements this season?
We knew what we were walking into this year and knew that this was going to happen. It was never a matter of if, it was always a matter of when. I am now hoping that we have seen the end of the major delays and will just have to navigate the individual kids being quarantined the best we can. The kids have handled it great because of the expectations going in and are taking it one day at a time. They are grateful everytime we get to step on the mat because who knows what comes tomorrow.
2. How do you feel being ranked in the top 10 in both dual and tournament?
Being ranked in the top 10 is a great thing for the program. We have finished in the top 10 each of the last three years, and one of those was in the top five. I do not see that changing this year as we have another tough group of kids with postseason experience. Being in the top 10 is a testament to the program and the kid’s work ethic in the room. Our dual team is struggling a little, but that is due to a quarantine and a few injuries that hopefully we will be getting them back soon.
3. Who are some of your top wrestlers this year?
Aiden Boyd at 120 is on fire to start the year. He is 4-0 and do not see him slowing down anytime soon. He is also a returning state placer finishing 4th last season at state, so he knows what it takes to be on the stand.
Kaden Stanley at 132 is the returning state runner up from last season and is another one in contention to win it all. He trains like a champ and is extremely dangerous in all positions. I see him wrestling Saturday night in the finals again with a great shot of standing on top this year.
Kai Shultz is another kid that is off to a good start. Kai is wrestling 145 and to has had some state tournament experience placing as a freshman. He put in a ton of work in the off season, both on the mat and in the weight room and has grown into a contender at 145. I fully expect him to be there on Saturday competing for a medal come February as well.
B.K Seago is another one of our guys who is undefeated to start the season at 4-0. B.K. wrestles 195 for us and is a returning state placer at 220 last season. We expect nothing less than him being right there at the end competing for a title along with the other guys. B.K. transferred in from Skiatook, and we couldn’t be happier with who is to our program already. He has already evolved into a leader but the way he carries himself, by hard he works, and just by who is as a young man. Claremore is fortunate to have the entire Seago family in our schools as well as our community.
4. Are there any newcomers who have stood out to you?
These guys are newcomers to our line-up that have taken their first opportunity to compete on the varsity level seriously and have quickly shown that they can compete. Dakota Culp, Gage Wilson and Vincent Christy. All three of these guys have one thing in common, toughness. They are not the most talented, but that does not slow them down. These guys work hard every day; there is never an exception. With that mindset, I believe that these guys can get to the state tournament and then give themselves a chance to surprise someone.
5. How excited are you for the first sanctioned girls state tournament next month?
I am really excited about girls wrestling. We were the first team to embrace the idea, and we have ran with it. I really did not know how I would feel about it until I watched the girls compete for the first time last season. I immediately fell in love with the idea because there is no difference. They are expected to train the same, get black eyes, bloody noses, broken fingers, and still compete, and they do. I believe all of our girls are contenders for a state medal. It is new to everyone so we are all on the same level playing field. In the end it will be who worked the hardest and learned the most throughout the first full year.