Hayden Tigers wrestling coach John Svoboda is excited about the upcoming season. Not only does the team have great upper-classman leadership, but every one of its 13 members are eager to start winning as well, he said.
"This group of guys is hungrier than the group last year," Svoboda said. "Some of the older guys are realizing that time's getting short, and they want to prove themselves at the state level."
Hayden has a tradition of wrestling success, and this team will no doubt carry on that tradition.
The team began practicing Nov. 13, strength training and performing conditioning exercises, such as running and jumping rope, on alternating days. Svoboda said everything in practice is devoted to bringing out aggressiveness in his athletes.
"I like to dominate, not just be there," Svoboda said. "A lot of times, you can't teach aggressiveness, but the techniques we teach require aggressiveness, so it's a make-or-break thing. Overall, you can improve aggressiveness by proving your self-worth."
Besides conditioning, the team is practicing wrestling moves and techniques, including takedowns, breakdowns, pins and escapes.
The team spent two hours concentrating on escapes Thursday, Svoboda said. He and assistant coach Leif Jacobsen showed the team several moves first, and then asked the wrestlers to imitate while the coach critiqued them.
"The kids are working hard now," Svoboda said. "If we can maintain that throughout the season, we'll do well."
The team has several returning wrestlers, including Jake Doolin, last year's fifth-place state finisher in the 135-pound weight class. Returning seniors include 189-pounder Jason Rolando and 152-pounder Trevor Gann.
Svoboda said a couple of his juniors, Doolin and Seth Copeland, also will be team leaders this season.
Svoboda said it would be difficult to make any predictions about the upcoming season, because he has not yet seen his wrestlers in competition, and wrestling can have some surprises.
"Wrestling is a different world," Svoboda said. "Anything can happen."