By Travis Smola
Wrestling has been suffering some down seasons in recent years. But things may be beginning to look up again with the return of former long-term head coach Ed Knapp.
“We’re in a big learning phase right now,” Knapp said after a multi-school match at home on December 21. “We’re seeing some good things.”
Last year’s squad struggled with a thin roster and injuries. It wasn’t too uncommon for the Bulldogs to lose points just from their opponents having their arm raised by forfeit. They are still seeing some forfeits in some areas, but the Bulldogs have more underclassman competitors than in the 2015 campaign.
The team is also pretty inexperienced. There are just a handful of seniors and only three boys actually wrestled the year before.
But it hasn’t all been a struggle. Knapp noted their strong performance the prior Saturday where they picked up four or five wins. One of those was against the usually strong Portage Northern.
The team also defeated Calvin Christian and Cassopolis earlier in the month on December 7. Even though the team lost against Gull Lake and St. Joseph in the December 21 match, Knapp believes they can be much better. “We’re even better than we showed tonight,” he said afterward. The team had three wrestlers out with injury that night. A fourth was out sick.
Knapp’s primary goal for this year is to jump-start a love of wrestling into the school and community again. “My attempt is to get a lot of kids out and show it can still be fun,” Knapp said.