Most coaches want their team to form a family-type bond, which often builds character and chemistry.
Andover Central wrestling coach Terry Alley's job of building that bond was made so much easier this season — he has three sets of brothers in his program.
"These kids have been around the program for a few years, so they know what it's like when they come in," Alley said. "It's tremendous that we can have a family-like atmosphere within the wrestling room."
Both sets of brothers on the varsity squad —Wichita Independent transfers Alex and Codie Bontz and Jake and Zac Gentzler — are highly regarded in Class 5A. Alex Bontz and both Gentzlers are ranked first in their weight classes, while Codie Bontz is sixth at 140.
Jake Gentzler finished second at 119 pounds in Class 5A last season after winning a title as a freshman. Zac, a freshman, won the Kids State Championship as an eighth grader. In 2009, Alex Bontz took third in Class 4A at 125, while Codie is a three-time state qualifier.
Add in five other state qualifiers and it's no wonder the KWCA has the Jaguars ranked third in 5A.
"We have a bunch of really good guys," Jake Gentzler said. "We know that it's our time and we have to push each other to get better."
What makes Central particularly strong is its dominance between the 103 and 152 pound classes. Five wrestlers are ranked, which makes for competitive practice sessions.
"It's safe to say that we have some good workout partners at our lower weights," Alley said. "We have some tough practices."
While the Jaguars have performed up to expectations (3-0 in duals, three top-two finishes at tournaments), Alley plans on turning up the heat up in practice in anticipation of the next month.
"After we come back from the Baldwin tournament at the end of the month, we are going to start going to two-a-day practices," Alley said. "I'm not sure how many teams practice twice a day this late in the season, but I've always done this, even when I was a player. It's gets you in great shape for the postseason."
Neutral thoughts — Following his team's victory over Goddard on Tuesday night at Newman, Derby coach Bill Ross said he would like to schedule a neutral site match again next season, in hopes of giving his program more exposure.
"It was nice to showcase two of the better teams in the state," Ross said. "I would love to do something like this again, but just to get any teams out here (Newman) would be great."
Not everyone is willing to sacrifice a home match. Heights coach Mike Church said the financial risk is too great.
"When we wrestled Carroll last year and ended its 105-dual streak, we had the largest gate in the history of City League wrestling and had more fans than if it would have been at a neutral floor," Church said. "I see no reason for us to move a dual to a neutral ground, especially when we would get no revenue in return. With as tight as money is now, it's just the business of the game."