Cross training helps wrestlers prepare for new season

As high school wrestling coach Jack Carney prepares for the season, many of his wrestlers are wrapping up competing in another sport. "Most of my kids are on cross-country (running). They're looking to win a state title," he said, predicting wins for Wrangell in regional and state cross-country competitions.

The first wrestling tournament is only a week after the cross-country season ends on Saturday, Oct. 7.

The coach said participating in multiple sports helps his wrestlers in the long run. "I love it," he said, "because they're getting high confidence. It's like a big old morale boost to win this state title before my season, and last year they did the same thing, which is great."

Citing other benefits, Carney added, "I want them focused all the way through from one year to another. ... I was a one-sport athlete, so when wrestling was over, my grades dropped, I wasn't focused, I was grumpy. And keeping these kids focused season to season, all year-round is really good. Plus, cross training, you know, getting these kids with good cardio, strong legs, before my wrestling season, it's beautiful."

However, Carney pointed out the challenges with having multi-sport competitors on the team.

"I've got to figure out how to balance having kids that aren't on the cross-country team learn all these basic (wrestling) moves and then getting my runners on step in time to be competitive early," he said.

"The main focus for me is just getting everybody where they need to be by regions and state. We want to peak out at the right time. We've got a big window where there's no wrestling right before regions. I've got to figure out how to keep them motivated all throughout the season and not lose steam toward the end."

Carney praised his staff and others in helping him get his wrestling team ready for the season, including high school assistant coach Rolland Wimberley, middle school assistant coach Lorne Cook, his wife Stephanie, and other school staff. "We have a very supportive school district that have been helping our kids out like crazy," he said.

The coach expressed confidence in his wrestlers for the upcoming season, starting with junior Della Churchill and senior Keegan Hanson. "Both of them have placed fourth in state," he said. "And they're both just really, really focused, motivated. They're good leaders in the room. I anticipate really high placements for them."

Carney is also looking forward to freshman Hailey Cook's first season at the high school level. "Hailey Cook is going to be phenomenal," he said. "She's a 103-pounder. She's very small, but super, super powerful."

His son, freshman Jackson Carney, will also represent the high school for the first time. "Last year, he had a really good season. He was, I think, 34 wins, four losses, something like that," the coach said.

Carney's expectations extend far beyond only a few wrestlers. "I'm just really excited about my team," he said. "In the next three years, I predict we're going to have multi-state champs. Last year, we had two. I think, in the future, we're going to have five or six, if these kids do what they're supposed to."

The team's first meet is Oct. 13 in Craig, with the state and regional championships set for mid-December.


Della Churchill (junior)

Hailey Cook (freshman)

Vanessa Johnson (junior)

Katelyn Gillen (sophomore)

Sophia Martinsen (freshman)


Cody Barnes (sophomore)

Jackson Carney (freshman)

Keegan Hanson (senior)

Ben Houser (sophomore)

Gavin Hunt (sophomore)

Boomchain Loucks (sophomore)

William Massin (sophomore)

Everett Meissner (freshman)

Ian Nelson (sophomore)

Cooper Powers (freshman)

Jackson Powers (sophomore)

Sawyer Rooney (freshman)

Kyan Stead (junior)


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