Wolves Wrestlers look to overcome turnover
Sig Decker takes down sparring partner Alisa Heller during practice Monday. The Wolves look to build this season on a program which has its roots as far back as elementary school.
Like many other teams at Wrangell High School this year, the Wolves wrestlers have seen a fair amount of turnover this season.
However, unlike some other teams, the wrestling team has roots in a program which extends all the way back to elementary school, and in some cases all the way back to kindergarten, said fourth-year coach Jeffrey Rooney.
“I have 11 wrestlers registered, and five of them are freshman,” he said. “We have good transition from the Middle School and Peewee programs.”
In addition to a relatively inexperienced squad, the team boasts four returning state competitors from the previous season. Senior Devon Miller and junior Jeffrey Rooney Jr. — who could potentially wrestle in either the 170- or 182-lb weight class this year, depending on how weigh-ins shake out —both placed in State competition in Anchorage. Senior Alex Cano, who is likely to wrestle in the 126-lb weight class and sophomore Roger Miller, who could wrestle in either the 132-lb or 138-lb weight class, also competed at the State meet last year.
“It was definitely a learning experience for them,” he said.
The uncertainty over weight class undergirds a lot of the early going in the season, Rooney said.
“It’s about where they think they will weigh in,” he said. “For others, it’s about where they think they want to be.”
The incoming crop of five freshmen represents as-of-yet untapped potential, but contains at least three proven competitors in other sports. Sig Decker, likely to wrestle in the 106-lb weight class, Darren Shilts, likely to wrestle in either the 132-lb or 138-lb class, and Dawson Miller, likely to wrestle at either 145 lbs or 152 lbs, all featured in the Wolves boys’ Region V Championship cross country team.
The new class also features female wrestler Alisa Heller, likely to wrestle in the 98-lb weight class, an occasion that now borders almost on unremarkable, Rooney said.
“Alisa is a competitor,” he said. “She really goes after it.”
In the meantime, the Wolves are looking to go the distance down the season, Rooney said.
“Every meet counts,” he said. “When you get to the end of the season, you can go into it with either five minutes of wrestling experience or 25 minutes worth of wrestling experience.”
A key marker – and potentially an eye-opener for the new wrestlers — for the season will be the Anchorage Christian Schools Tournament Wrestling Invitational in Anchorage, Rooney said. The meet draws 44 teams from all over Alaska and hundreds of high-school-age wrestlers.
“It features all the northern schools,” he said. “It’s great to get out of our region and see the northern schools and northern competitors.”
The Wolves season starts this weekend with a meet in Petersburg. The Wolves will hold their one home meet of the year Oct. 25-26.