Winfield High School is a long way from the public schools of St. Louis City.
For first-year wrestling coach Chris Sanders, the chance to be closer to family and the opportunity to build a program from the ground up was a proposition too appealing to pass up.
“It’s worth it to build a team from scratch,” Sanders, a Rolla native, said. “I like having talent built for me, but it’s better to watch kids grow up and work with them for several years, so I can learn what they like and what they don’t like.”
Sanders will be fielding a young squad in the 2020-2021 campaign due to graduation and the COVID-19 outbreak that recently hit the Winfield R-IV School District. The team also lost state qualifier Charles Sutton, who transferred up the road to Troy Buchanan High School.
“There are players I haven’t seen yet because of COVID-19,” Sanders said. “I’m expecting at least six or seven more players who are quarantining coming in.
“Hopefully, they’ll be here soon.”
Despite being short on numbers, Sanders believes his team is long on talent - and thinks his Warriors will make some noise as the season moves along.
“I’m hoping to get at least two to the state tournament,” he said. “This is Class 2, so it’s a good class to wrestle in.
“We’ve got some experienced girls wrestling here, so we can get a couple to state.”
The Warriors are dealing with the specter of the novel coronavirus, which has depleted its ranks so far. However, that has not deterrred Sanders’ belief his team can succeed in the upcoming season.
“I honestly think we think we can get (to the state tournament),” he said. “We think we can the numbers, but COVID-19 is keeping us from doing that right now.
“Anything can happen, and that’s why I love wrestling.”