Coach Mike Schauer and the Maize wrestling team know what disappointment feels like. It’s seeing their opposition hugging on top of a podium in Park City’s Hartman Arena.
It’s having five wrestlers qualify to compete on the sport’s biggest high school stage. And it’s also having all five come just short of the dream they had to start the year.
The Eagles finished ninth at the Class 6A tournament, and all five Maize qualifies missed out on a state title. All five have spent this offseason seething, but they think this year could be different.
“Experience and confidence is such a big part of wrestling,” Schauer said. “Sometimes just having been to the state tournament is a huge plus. These kids that didn’t place last year had never been to state before and that’s always a bit daunting. Now it’s time to build.”
The foundation for Maize to build on is impressive. The Eagles begin with all five of its state participants from a year ago. The trio of juniors Brett Moon, Alex Hydock and Cole Moses all return with podium finishes, and senior Devon Baker at 182 pounds and sophomore Zac Grantham were qualifiers.
Despite the experience returning, Schauer will also have five freshmen expected to fill starting roles beginning this weekend at an Arkansas City tournament.
“We are pretty much split right now, with a number of upperclassman who have varsity experience from past years but also about half that are freshmen,” said Schauer. “They are a little bit wide-eyed right now, but they will see some pretty good competition.”
Now entering his 14th season in charge of the Eagles, Schauer is hoping that mix of youth and experience will mesh as the season continues.
The Eagles have a difficult early schedule. After Arkansas City, Maize travels for a dual and then an Oklahoma two-day tournament in two weeks.
“Our upperclassman just need to continue building their confidence and the younger guys are just going to have to forget they are freshmen,” Schauer said. “They are in starting roles now. They are varsity wrestlers. That’s what we need to instill in them.”