After a fourth-place finish at the state championship tournament last weekend in Columbia, MO, Seckman wrestling coach, Cody Greene, reflected on his team’s result, and considered the performance to be in line with his expectations.
“We kind of finished where we wanted to, based on our expectations coming into the season. We’d never finished in the top four, and we wanted to bring home a trophy this season,” Greene said.
Most wrestling programs experience ups and downs as the season progresses, and Seckman was no exception. After a 16th-place finish in December at the Toshiba-KCI tournament, which is one of the top wrestling competitions in the nation, the team decided its effort was not up to par, and decided to take the result as a challenge to improve.
Even Matt Kraus, who was 45-3 this season, and repeated as a state champion, saw a less than satisfactory result at the tournament in Kansas City, finishing seventh.
“We definitely weren’t satisfied with the effort at the KCI, and Coach took us aside and told us we needed to step up our practice and get our heads straight,” Kraus said.
The motivational talk worked, as Seckman began putting together consistent wins, beginning with a first-place finish at the inaugural All-Suburban tournament at Hazelwood Central in early January.
Strong in the lighter weight classes, Seckman saw championship performances at the All-Suburban from Brock Wingbermuehle (103 pounds), Kraus (112), Danny Farrell (119), and Denny Kleinschrodt (125).
Seckman saw a strong run at state from Tim Niewald, who took the second-place medal. Farrell joined Kraus and Niewald in medaling at state, finishing fourth after a minor-decision loss in the third-place match. Kleinschrodt took third place at state, pinning Clayton Ream of Holt in his final match of the season.
Additional top state finishers for the Jaguars included Blake Pepper (140), who defeated Lafayette’s Kyle Black to take fifth place, and Corey Matt (152), who took sixth place.
For most of the Seckman wrestlers, their work began many years back, in the form of participation in early development programs.
The Fox JagWarrior wrestling club, headed by coach Frank Valleroy, has had a hand in nurturing several of the top finishers for Seckman this season.
“Our feeder program is year in, year out, one of the top development programs in the area, and when we get a kid in the varsity lineup as a freshman, who can compete right away, that’s huge," Greene said.
“Frank (Valleroy) has been running it since I was a kid, and he’s the heart and soul of the program, he has a stamp on every wrestler who has competed for our team,” Greene said.
As most high school wrestling teams understand, a championship program requires a sustained, committed effort at every level. And for those capable of putting together such effort, very successful results can, and will be expected.
While there are some weight classes that Seckman hopes to improve in next season, the main goal is to add a first-place finisher, or two, to the lineup. Farrell and Pepper are the clear candidates to help Seckman realize its goal of putting up multiple state champions, but Greene keeps it simple when considering how his wrestlers should approach next season.
“If you haven’t reached your goal yet, or even if you have, then you need to elevate it to the next level,” he said.