Success is a way of life for Troy Buchanan’s wrestling team.
With that kind of reputation to uphold, it’s very easy to become complacent.
Hardly. Coach Patrick Nichols still expects excellence from his team, even though key performers have moved on.
“We’re a very young and unproven team,” Nichols said. “We have one senior and a sophomore in Zach Collins, who was a district runner-up and a state qualifier last year.”
Nichols said overall, his squad is made up of about 50 wrestlers, male and female. Their hard work, he said, would make them formidable opponents for all they will face in the upcoming season.
“We’re very excited about the capabilities of our team, and I’ve got eight coaches working with them,” Nichols said. “These kids are willing to learn – and they’ve spent the last three months on the mat.
“It’s exciting to see how this season plays out.”
A pair of transfers who are joining the team from local programs bolsters Nichols’ excitement. Sophomore Bret Smith finished fifth in the Class 4 state tournament as a freshman at Holt last year, and Charles Sutton was a Class 3 state qualifier last year down the road at Winfield.
“We’re going to sneak up on some people, if it’s possible to sneak up on people,” Nichols said. “Other teams know what we have.”
Who the Trojans won’t have is two-time undefeated state champion Autumn Flannigan, who Troy lost to graduation. Nichols said he hopes the next great girls wrestler can be found in his young group.
“(Flannigan) is going to be hard to replace, but we have about 15 girls who have an itch to learn,” he said. “We’ll see how they improve during the year.”
A strong season won’t be possible if Troy loses wrestlers to the reality of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Collins was quarantined earlier due to exposure to the virus, and the team has taken precautions to protect players and coaches.
“We’re keeping the padding sanitized, and separating our wrestlers into groups,” Nichols said. “We’ve got the girls and the underclassmen training upstairs, and we’ve got the big guys training separately from everybody else.”
Troy has done its best to schedule competitively, but the realities of COVID-19 have also made that difficult as well.
“We’ve beefed up our schedule,” Nichols said. “All our early events were canceled due to COVID-19, but we’ve added some teams to our schedule from the other side of the state to face us.”
Overall, the Trojans believe the 2020-2021 campaign could be just as successful as previous seasons.
“If we keep these guys healthy and COVID-19 free, we have a chance,” Nichols said.