De Soto wrestling sets preseason expectation

Junior+Owen+Nehl+attempts+a+take+down+his+opponent+during+last+year%27s+Regional+tournament+on+Feb.+21.

Jenna Doran

Junior Owen Nehl attempts a take down his opponent during last year’s Regional tournament on Feb. 21.

Ethan Ferguson, Sports editor

As the fall sports season begins to wrap up at De Soto High School, winter sports like wrestling are just around the corner. Wrestling weigh-ins were this week, with tryouts starting on Nov.18. 

The wrestling team has been successful in the past through the efforts of athletes that have been in the program for three or four years. With the senior class of 2020 graduating, the wrestling team is going to be led by juniors like Owen Nehl, who was voted team captain last year as well. 

“It was a great season last year. We had a lot of experience and talent for being a young team,” Nehl said. 

Although the team is young, their goal is exactly what it was last year: get as many wrestlers to State as possible. 

“That’s the goal this year, I want everyone to go,” junior wrestler, Ben Longren said.

It will be Longren’s first season wrestling with the Wildcats, which he is thankful for given the circumstances of this year. 

“Football has been a blessing,.e’ve been so lucky to not have a positive COVID test on the team. We’ll have to do the best we can to stay healthy like that in the winter,” Longren said. 

With some schools already cancelling their wrestling seasons, it was debated whether a wrestling season would even happen at De Soto this year. Wrestling manager Haylee Hurt explained how De Soto will be making their season happen this year. 

“They [wrestlers] will be wearing special masks that cover their entire head besides their eyes. This way their mask will be on the whole time and there won’t be any issues,” Hurt said.

Changes to the way practice operates have also been made for the wrestling season to work within COVID restrictions

“This year, the wrestlers will do cardio first, and then they’ll take a shower and change clothes before they even go into the wrestling room for practice,” Hurt said. 

There is great effort being given by the wrestling team to keep the season alive, but masks and disinfectant can only do so much. COVID protocols have caused changes in the format to tournaments as well. 

“We can only have duals, which just means our entire team will have to wrestle an entire other team, and then the mats will be sanitized and we’ll wrestle again,” Hurt said. 

By formatting their tournaments this way, it reduces the chances of COVID being spread between different schools. 

The wrestling team this year looks a bit different from past years, but they will no doubt bring the same intensity to practice and meets they have in the past. Wildcat nation should be on the lookout for an impressive season from our varsity wrestlers.