Winter Sports Report: MUHS wrestling
MIDDLEBURY — With a varsity team roughly tripled in size from a year ago and another 16 wrestlers in the middle school program, Middlebury Union wrestling Coach Ethan Raymond felt optimistic about his program during the preseason.
“I’m excited, obviously. We worked hard to recruit over the summer,” Raymond said. “The other thing is we have a really outgoing group of kids, and they draw other kids to them, and that really helped.”
That approximate tripling meant growth from three wrestlers to 10. Those three are the veterans, all sophomores, and one classmate signed on. The other half-dozen are freshmen, several with significant middle school and youth experience.
Raymond views the situation as a chance to start over and build a foundation for the future, and he believes he has the right group to do so after watching them lift weights and attend sessions over the summer and do extra work after practices in the preseason.
“We’re young, which I’m excited about. We’re kind of starting from scratch. And we talked about they’re building the culture. It’s all about their work ethic and their values, and that’s what we’re working on,” Raymond said.
“Our slogan for this year is ‘Character over everything,’ meaning I don’t care about wins and losses, I care about the process. How do we get to where we’re going, and how do we make the right steps to get to where we want to be? And they’re behind it. They’re all working really hard.”
The three sophomore veterans are Brian Whitley, who will wrestle at 138 pounds, and twins Calvin and Tucker Kennett, who will go at 152 and 160, respectively.
They are the most likely to make an impact, Raymond said.
“I think they’ll step to the next level, and those three have done well leading the team so far,” he said.
Freshman Layne Chant slots in at 106, and three other wrestlers are all in the 138 range, freshman Wu Dong and Landon Taylor and sophomore Milo Gordon. Raymond said Gordon could drop to 132 and Dong move up to 145.
Freshman William Wagner will go at 220, and freshmen Chad Fredette and Nicholas Sheldrick will both compete at 285.
Another new face this year is freshman Chance Peoples who will wrestle at 132.
Raymond much of the time will steer many of the younger, less-experienced wrestlers toward JV competition to give them a chance to gain seasoning and develop their skills.
“I want to encourage and develop wrestlers,” he said.
Fortunately, Raymond feels he has the luxury of time to do so.
“Things are looking good right now,” he said. “The good thing about 9th- and 10th-graders is you’ve got them for three more years.”
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