WRESTLING SEASON PREVIEW: Roll out the mats
The Lake Havasu wrestling team is looking to make a statement this year.
After proving themselves to be one of the best in Division II and sending five wrestlers to the state tournament, the Knights plan to continue to roll over opponents and flex their dominance on a new division since they were moved down to Division III.
“I’m very confident about the season but I also want the team to know it’s going to take a lot of hard work,” Shuman said. “We’re putting in a lot of that hard work in the wrestling room but I want the team to exceed their expectations.
“Wrestling is one of those sports where being in a certain division doesn’t make you a great team. We faced some Division I teams last year that we were able to beat. We had a very winning season last year and I just want these kids to keep going.”
With Shuman, Havasu will be under leadership after head coach Rob Wylie stepped down. Shuman may be new to the role of head coach but he is not new to the program as he was assistant coach last year. This is Shuman’s third year with the Knights.
The majority of last years team is back this year which is why the Knights look to be so dominant again.
Seniors Earle Parra and Jordan Austin return with the intention to make it back to state and win it all after finishing second in the tournament in their respective divisions — Parra in the 120-pound weight class and Austin in the 113.
Both have stepped up a weight class this year with Austin taking Parra’s 120 spot and Parra will compete in the 132-pound class. In fact, most of the returning wrestlers this year have moved up a weight class but no one seems concerned about it.
“My weight class in this division is going to be easier I think,” Austin said. “We’re going to be facing a few easier teams but also a lot of different teams.”
“There are a couple of teams that dropped down from Division II to Division III that we’ve wrestled before,” senior 113- pounder Kyler Green said. “Most of those teams were easy for us last year but there are some that are really good. So it should be interesting.”
Returning with Parra and Austin is Green, senior 170-pounder Rob Samsoe — who was poised to take third in the 160-pound weight class at state last year but was injured in his consolation bout — junior 160-pounder Jared Thomas and senior 152-pounder Corey Pellerin.
The one area the Knights had trouble with last year was in the heavyweight classes. They had a 220-pounder in Kaden Ada but not a 195 and 285.
However, while Havasu had to forfeit points for those empty classes, it’s almost unfair to say the Knights had trouble because they made up for those lost points by pinning their opponents. But this year, Shuman expects some younger wrestlers to fill that role.
“We have the total package when it comes to putting a team together,” Shuman said. “We have just the right amount of veterans with some new faces but those new faces are also filling weight classes we didn’t have last year.
“So it’ll be beneficial to us to have a full team. I’m still going to push them to get those points but it does make it easier when we have a bigger team.”
The Knights are confident in their abilities this year to repeat their success from last year. But they don’t just want to repeat it, they want to exceed it by trying to sweep the tournaments in the regular season, send even more wrestlers to the state tournament and bring home as many state champions as they can.
It’s that family mentality that has Havasu striving for more. They seem to want for each other just as much as they want for themselves. After their success last year, they all know what is possible and have the experience now to lead one another in achieving those goals.
“For the past three years most of us have been working together and I think this is going to be our best year yet,” Samsoe said. “We want to place in the top five as a team at state. We just need to get some young guys to step up build on the chemistry that we already have.”
“We definitely made a statement last year,” Thomas said. “Last year we weren’t really known. But when we are able to go into somebody else’s house and beat them good, that’s what made us known.”