Like its coach’s demeanor, the Collins-Maxwell-Baxter wrestling team went through the 2011-12 season somewhat quietly.
Now, after losing only a few seniors and returning the bulk of a lineup from a nine-win team, Raiders coach Dennis Hennick is making a little more noise about this year’s team and its potential than he normally would.
“I’m being optimistic and thinking we’ll have a better team even though we’re younger,” Hennick said. “A handful of kids wrestled a lot over the summer, so I’m looking forward to it. So far it’s just been conditioning, conditioning, conditioning.”
The Raiders lost key contributors in Cody Christianson (35 wins), Alan Johnson (19 wins) and Jeremy O’Hara (13 wins) from last year, but return everyone else. Leading the pack this year will be senior Lehvi Bucklin, who racked up a 23-8 record last year. Sixteen of those victories were pins and got Bucklin within shouting range of the state tournament.
Sophomores Jake Hennick and Beau Iske return some success to the 106 and 113-pound weight divisions, respectively. Each recorded 19 wins last season and regularly held their own against tougher competition, but could never seem to close out. A large part of that for Hennick was the fact that he was giving up 20 pounds, something that he has since fixed. In the upper weights, junior Dawson Dahlke is expected to make big strides from his eight-win season last year after hitting the weights hard in the offseason.
In addition to them, Hennick also believes he has a stable of wrestlers on the verge of breakout years. Junior Caleb Wolff, who recorded 15 wins last season, hit the weights hard in the offseason and is eyeing an improvement to his record. In the middle weights, Hennick is hoping this is the year juniors Logan Cory and Jordan Coughenour come into their own after years in the sport.
“They’ve been wrestling since they were little, so I’m just waiting for it to click,” Hennick said of Coughenour and Cory. “You’ve seen it before when it just clicks in a boy’s eyes while he’s wrestling, and they go. I’m hoping that happens this year.”
As far as newcomers go, the Raiders have an exciting one in freshman Charles Robinson. Coming off an eighth-grade season in which he took second in the state AAU tournament, Robinson should make an immediate impact for the Raiders in the middle weights. His loss in the finals of the AAU tournament was just the second one he suffered in the past two years.
The Raiders will begin their season at home in Baxter in Nevada on Nov. 29, but Hennick isn’t concerned about that. Actually, he doesn’t seem to be scoping out the schedule at all and is solely concerned with what’s going on in his room until the season begins.
“To tell you the truth, I don’t pay any attention to that,” Hennick said with a smile. “Who you have is who you have, so just go out there and wrestle.”