Swede wrestlers are set for their first bit of action this season, hosting Sidney at Gothenburg High School in a dual on Dec. 3, then traveling to Cozad for the Cozad Invitational on Saturday.
As the grapplers prepare for the opening weekend of competition, coach Tim Negley has some work to do in figuring out who will be slotted in what weight class.
“We have 31 wrestlers out this season, which is great to see,” he said. “I thought there would be increased numbers and I actually had 36 or 38 on my list and five or six never materialized.”
The production in practice has been fantastic, Negley said and he is especially happy with the work ethic the team is showing early in the season.
While the team has focused more on details in the early practices, Negley said that laying the foundation of the footwork and drillwork would provide a good platform for the team to build on this season.
There’s also some fantastic competition happening in the wrestling room, and Negley said that he’s thrilled with how the team has shown the work ethic it will take to be successful.
“The guys are pushing each other,” he said. “At the end of practice last week, we had some extra conditioning and I’ve never seen a group work as hard as they did that day.”
The Swedes have five senior wrestlers returning to the mat this year, each with a depth of experience as well as a fair amount of juniors who are ready to compete for the starting weight class spot.
Negley continued to say that there is a lot of potential in this Swede wrestling team, which means that he anticipates some post-season action for the club.
“The potential for five or six or seven state qualifiers is there,” he said. “It’s not unreasonable to think that we could have a pretty good dual year and think that we could try to get into the dual state tournament. We would have to wrestle really well week in and week out.”
The depth of the team in a number of weight classes is a good problem to have, Negley said, and that competition is something he hopes will continue to push his team to get better.
“The talent is there, we just have to flip the switch,” he said.
The younger wrestlers are also making excellent strides in their preparation for the upcoming season as well, Negley said, and he has paired more experienced wrestlers with the underclassmen in order to help them along.
“They’ve done a good job of teaching them how to drill and how to learn the moves and do them correctly,” he said. “Becoming a good wrestler takes a lot of learning how to be a good partner. It’s not live wrestling all the time, it’s important to learn how to drill and teach your partner how to move correctly.”
This season is the first season that girls’ wrestling will be sanctioned as its own sport and Negley said that it will benefit the girls who are wrestling for the Swedes this season.
Many of the tournaments that the Swedes will compete in will include girls’ tournaments.
Negley said he felt there would be four girls’ districts and take the top four finishers to the state tournament.
“It’s very exciting,” he said.
As the Swedes prepare for the Sidney dual on Friday, Negley said they are working on the details.
“We are working on a lot of weight management and making sure we have the best wrestler in each weight class,” he said. “I feel like we are going to be able to put a product out there on the mat that should be able to win that dual.”
Then on Dec. 4, the Swedes hit the road to take on the field at the Cozad Invitational.
Negley said that the level of competition the Swedes will see at Cozad is high-caliber and he’s looking forward to seeing how the Swedes fare against some of the best competition they will see so early in the season.
“The Cozad tournament is tough,” he said. “It will be good for the junior varsity kids to get some experience in that bracket but the varsity tournament is a barn-burner. It’s good to have a match and a weigh in under our belts going into that, but we better be ready to wrestle.”
The Swedes’ dual against Sidney will begin at 6 p.m. on Dec. 3 and can be live-streamed on the Gothenburg Activities YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/GothenburgActivities.
The first match of the Dec. 4 Cozad Invitational will begin at 9:30 a.m.