All signs point to another successful season for David City wrestling. The Scouts have had the run of Class C lately with eight individual champions, two state tournament titles, two state tournament runners-up and three state dual first-place trophies.
With five returning from the 2018 state tournament runner-up team, David City figures to be in the favorite in most duals and in the mix for tournament titles every weekend.
The Scouts welcome back three state medalists, two other qualifiers and 13 total wrestlers who earned a letter last season.
David City was second at the state tournament to Valentine by 32.5 points. The Badgers had a lineup that included five state champs and a runner-up.
At the state dual tournament, the Scouts were fifth after losing to Valentine to start the day before winning the next two.
“What’s different this year, compared to when I first came in, pretty much everybody I have down in the room this year are kids that wrestled for me in junior high,” coach Tanner Thiem said Nov. 16 before practice. “I don’t have kids that this is their first wrestling experience. What’s nice about that is, they’ve been in our system. They know the drills we do, they know the practice structure, they know what’s expected of them, they know when a coach is talking, they’re not.
“We don’t have to start from nothing. We cover the fundamentals, but we progress through everything much quicker.”
Thiem is in his eighth year at the helm. In 2018-19, his group features a trio of expected senior leaders in Carlos Chavez, Noah Styskal and Justin White as well as eight talented freshmen who figure to challenge their older teammates in the room and, for some, find a way into the lineup.
In between, there are sophomores and juniors hungry to prove themselves as well.
“That’s one thing I’ve noticed in the first five days. We’re moving fast. These guys are dedicated and they’re committed,” Thiem said. “Not a lot of them reached their goals last year. So that’s one thing that’s kind of stinging for them.”
Last year’s group included four seniors. Seth Styskal won a Class C state championship at 113 pounds with a 36-1 record.
Melvin Hernandez did the same with a perfect 25-0 mark at 145 pounds. Matthew Eilers was third at 220 and finished the season 41-6.
Returning state qualifiers include Styskal and White, junior Jacson Valentine and sophomores Clayton Harris and Dylan Vodicka.
Styskal was fourth at 126 pounds in a 38-6 season, White took third at 138 going 47-3, Valentine was 1-2 at state at 132 and finished 35-13 overall, Harris went 2-2 at 120 in a 25-13 year and Vodicka took sixth and completed a 36-16 season at 152.
“We’ve got two seniors this year that are phenomenal, great wrestlers that have not won a title yet. I think they’ve come down every day since summer. They’ve got something to prove,” Thiem said. “When you have your leaders that are that dedicated, your seniors that are that dedicated and committed, the younger guys follow suit.
“That’s what we’re seeing so far.”
Talk about individual and team success though, is never really a part of the conversation.
Rather, discussions always have to do with reaching a wrestler’s full potential.
The focus is every day, to “get one percent better.”
“To improve daily and to come to practice with a purpose,” Thiem said. “We believe that by the end of the year, if every wrestler on our team reaches their full potential, we’ve done the best we can.”
“Our goals are more about getting better and being the best you can be, rather than a results-driven approach.”
That sort of focus on the here and now, instead of the finish line takes a complete buy-in from everyone. At first, because Thiem did things a little differently, there was some initial resistance.
That resistance has since turned into trust and belief. That trust and belief has proven its worth year in and year out.
“They trust our process that we’re not just wasting time on a drill – it has a purpose. We’re not wasting time on conditioning – it has a purpose. Everything we do has a purpose,” Thiem said. "Kids have bought into that. There’s no more fight.
“I’m not going to say it’s easy, it’s not easy. But the results are out there that we have a great system. Kids have bought into the culture. Now we just have to go to work daily.”
Nate Tenopir is the sports editor of The Banner-Press. Reach him via email at DVDsports@lee.net