Trevor Locke is in his second season coaching the Winfield wrestling team and based on the performance of several of his wrestlers in his first season, he has high expectations.
Locke coaches the team with Bruce Payne, who has been the coach since 2007. Payne is retiring after this season, leaving Locke to take on both the boys and the girls teams.
“The first season ended up pretty decent. I think we had seven wrestlers on the boys team last year and four on the girls. We qualified three guys to state out of seven, which is close to half our team. So, I was pretty proud of that,” Locke said.
And out of the three boy wrestlers that qualified for state last year, two of them were freshman.
Locke said that his main expectation for those three wrestlers at state was to simply win at least one match, but shoot for more.
“They both won a match at state, which was great. That was kind of our goal for them was go and not just be okay with making it but to go in and win a match and it was pretty awesome to have them both do that,” Locke said.
Now senior, last season junior, Clark Rogers, went a little further than winning that one match at state last year. He went all the way to the final.
“[Rogers], who was a junior last year, made it to the state finals and took second. Which is pretty awesome. He’s actually been a state semi-finalist every year and been a state placer every year,” Locke said. “We are excited for the team we have out this year, for Clark, being a senior this year and returning state finalist.”
Rogers took home sixth place as a freshman, fourth place as a sophomore and second place as a junior: so the expectation to best that is there.
“This year, our goal for him is the state championship,” Locke said.
Already this season, Rogers won a tournament in Illinois.
“He wrestled really well over there. He has improved, as hard as it is for somebody to improve on a state finals appearance. He’s already improved from last year to this year and I’m excited to see him keep going,” Locke said,
He also mentioned Charos Sutton, a freshman, coming in as an already pretty polished wrestler; Matthew Hornbeck who was a state qualifier last year and who has improved since last year; and a plethora of new first year wrestlers he’d excited to work with.
On the girls side, Locke admits that the team is struggling a little bit for numbers.
The girls wrestling team had it inaugural season last year. That team had four girls on it. But unfortunately, three of them were seniors, leaving the team to kind of start from scratch again this year.
“Being a first year team and having three seniors and a junior, you know. Our junior is back as a senior and we have two other girls, so we have three total,” Locke said.
Before the season started, Locke said that he had seven girls involved, but some of them ended up realizing wrestling might not be for them.
“We had a couple girls come out and try it and just go ‘Hey, I don’t think this is for me,’ which I’ll take that at the end of the day. Wrestling isn’t for everybody. I had a couple that came out and gave it a shot and say they weren’t liking it as much as they thought they would and I can appreciate that,” Locke said.
Locke said that three is enough for them to train and get better and it also helps that the three are roughly at the same skill level and size.
The boys team isn’t particularly big, numbers wise, with seven wrestlers.
Locke sees the difficulties in having low number compared to other programs but also sees it as a potential strength.
“It makes it tough. Some rooms get upwards of 20-30 guys, which makes training and getting better a lot easier. So for our guys, seeing as how we are in a smaller room with a pretty good size variable, it kind of comes down to mental toughness and being able to make sure you are taking what you can out of each and everyday even though you are drilling the same person. But looking for new ways to get better each day and looking to stretch yourself and force yourself to try and do things and try and get better at the things you are already good at. So that is one of our biggest challenges. The variety or diversity of training that we just don’t have,” Locke said.
Like he said, for Winfield wrestling, it is all about mental toughness, and taking what you have and making the best out of it.
“For us, it is finding success in the little things that we can control. We can’t control having 30 kids out but we can control how we’re approaching our technique,” Locke said.
Two of the girls are brand new to wrestling, meaning they aren’t quite comfortable wrestling with the guys just yet.
Deana Raasch, who was a junior last year, has a bit more experience and mixes it up with the boy wrestlers.
For the other girls, they’ve never wrestled competitively.
“I keep trying to tell them it is one thing to be here in the room where you guys have been practicing on each other, going live against each other, but your going live against another person that’s never wrestled before.
“You two, you are in for a big shock when you come out and essentially wrestle someone who wants to rip your head off for the first time. No matter how much I try to prep you and we drill and we replicate in here, it’s just not the same to replicate someone who is from a different school that is confident, that knows how to wrestle and maybe wrestled for a year or two. I can do nothing to prep you for that until you actually get to that moment. Trying to get them mentally prepared for that has been one of the biggest hurdles,” Locke said.