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Trojan wrestling team off to good start

By: Matt Long/Telegraph Sports Editor
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Casey Rhyan is excited for the wrestling season. Oak Ridge’s head coach achieved two goals thanks to an offseason wrestling program that about half of his team participated in and with an enormous team of 70, he’s got plenty of depth on the roster. “The two things that I wanted to accomplish were to get our boys stronger, because I didn’t feel that we were physical enough, and I also wanted to get some depth on the team so we’d never have to throw a freshman or sophomore out on the varsity mat with little to no experience. I feel like we’re beginning to get that kind of depth.” Rhyan said about 35 wrestlers participated in the fall workouts, where besides getting stronger; the goal was to be further along when the season started. “The fall program went really well; better than I expected,” Rhyan said. “It put us ahead of schedule strength and conditioning wise and that was obvious after how we did last weekend. We spent two days a week in the weight room and the other two days we were in the room, but we also threw some weights in their too. We got stronger for sure; you can see it.” The team has doubled from the 35 team members a year ago. With 70 kids this year, the hardest part is finding matches for all of them, said Rhyan. On most weekends this season, Rhyan will be with the varsity team, while the junior varsity wrestlers will be at a different tournament and the younger and novice wrestlers will be at their own tournaments on many occasions as well. At last week’s Freedom Duals in Oakley, the Trojans finished second out of 20 teams, winning four matches against Freedom, Golden Valley, Foothill and Clayton Valley before losing to James Logan in the finale, 44-31. More impressively, Oak Ridge accomplished that with three forfeits in the lineup. The Trojans excelled in the middle to upper weight division, as juniors Ali Atebar (152), Keaton Subjeck (160) and Zack Claiborne (182) and senior Hugh Ellerman (170) each won all five of their matches on the day. “I think we’re going to surprise some people this year,” Rhyan said. “I think people are counting us out and I obviously don’t think they should be. We’ve had a lot of bad luck in recent years with injuries, and not just that but injuries happening at key times. We’ve got more depth this year so if we can keep it together we should have a good year.” Oak Ridge also had wrestlers competing at tournaments in Amador and Folsom. At the Amador Tournament, Oak Ridge had nine first-place finishes, four seconds and six thirds, while four of the seven wrestlers who competed in the Vista Tournament medaled. “We’ve got another tough weekend at the Curt Mettler Invitational, so that will be a good test for us,” Rhyan said.