By Chris Parsons / Staff Writer
With the 2012 high school wrestling season almost upon us, Whitley County coach Justin Bozeman said his team has some work to do as far as replacing some of last year’s departures.
Last year, 120 lb. junior John Siler picked up the Colonels best finish as he grabbed seventh in the state with a record of 5-2 in state competition. Siler is the main returnee this season and Bozeman said he will be looked to when it comes to leadership.
“This season we’re looking for a lot out of Siler this year,” Bozeman said. “He’s ranked No. 1 preseason at 126 and probably two or three at 120, so we really expect him to do some good things.
“We’re going to wait and see where people line up as far as the region and see where we can do the best for him,” he added. “It just really depends on how things play out.”
Bozeman also expects big man Sam Vanover to play a factor in how the Colonels fare this season as well. He said Vanover is predicted to be in the top five in the state in the 220 lb. weight class.
“We expect Sam to have a good season and like I said, he’s predicted to finish in the top five,” Bozeman said. “He had a pretty good season last year, so we’ll be expecting him to have another good season.”
Other wrestlers Bozeman said should help along the way are sophomore Luke Bray at either the 152 lb. or 160 lb. class, Daniel Wolforth at the 135 lb. or 140 lb. class and Anthony Kurzika.
Bozeman said despite the fact this is just his second season with the Colonels, he felt like the program as a whole is on the upswing and he likes the squad he has this season. Given the experience he has in the sport, it’s safe to say Bozeman knows a little bit about what he’s doing.
“This is my second year coaching here, but I’ve coached 15 years at McCreary Central,” Bozeman said. “We had some state runner up finishes and a state champion there and some good kids come through the program.
“We’ve got some good kids here at Whitley County and some kids that really want to see the program do well,” he said. “We’ve got 26 kids out right now and we’ll probably have about 30 or 34 once all the football players get in there and get to work.
“That’s a really good number for wrestling because you can only have 14 kids on a team starter-wise,” he added. “Everyone else over 14 is just considered to be on the B team, but has the chance to work for their spot every week.”
Bozeman said that chance to improve every week is somewhat unique to wrestling.
“That’s something that gives kids a chance to work a little harder from week to week as far as the kids that are really close to being a starter,” he said. “What you get is kids coming in and working toward a goal as they progress through the season and in practices.”