Wildcats pin down wrestling

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

High school junior varsity program starts in winter

Wildcat Nation will soon have a new sport to rally behind during the winter season, as the district will begin fielding a wresting team for the 2015-2016 school year.

According to Cassville Athletic Director Doug Martin, the full rollout of the wrestling program will take two years, and only junior varsity will be offered in the coming year, and varsity competition to begin in 2016-2017.

"Our goal is to compete in five junior varsity tournaments and five dual type events [this year with junior varsity]," Martin said. "We will not, however, host any events this year."

Martin said Cassville would be able to wrestle at districts in 2016-2017.

"I am excited about the prospects with this sport and what it brings to our students," he said. "We are going to ease into this. We have the coaches in place a with Head Coach David Hopper and Assistant Coach Murphy Braden to lead the program."

Hopper will receive a $3,525 stipend to coach the Wildcats and Braden will be paid an additional $2,467.50.

Cassville Superinten-dent Richard Asbill said two years ago, former Athletic Director David Large negotiated a compromise with a group seeking to add wrestling at Cassville.

The compromise, in short, said the district would consider a high school program if a viable youth organization was created to promote the program and help establish a base of athletes.

Troy Thompson, who two years ago helped form the Wildcat Takedown Club, the youth wrestling club based in Cassville, submitted a written request to the district in April to add the program to the school's sports offering.

"We established a successful youth wrestling program in Cassville," Thompson said in his request. "We have a concern that some of our middle school- and junior high-aged kids that wrestled this year will not have the opportunity to wrestle in high school. Therefore, we would like to formally request the consideration to add the sport of wrestling to the Cassville School System."

According to Thompson, in just two years, along with other dedicated parents, the program grew to encompass 35 wrestlers from ages 5-14.

"We are excited [for wrestling] for a couple of different reasons," Asbill said. "First, we got to respond to a parent group regarding a community need, and second, we have the opportunity to offer another avenue for our students to be successful."

According to Martin, the district polled their incoming freshmen and received wrestling interest from 12. In addition, a wrestling interest signup was offered to those in grades 10-12 and garnered another 18 names.

Martin said not all 30 athletes that expressed interest would potentially come out, but the number was substantial enough to merit strong consideration by the board.

"It only takes 14 athletes to fill a wrestling roster," Martin said. "I feel confident enough that we will have that many."

The initial projected startup cost to the district is $16,000 to $17,000. The expenditure includes two mats, warmups, singlets and some cleaning materials.

Matin said the district is still waiting on one more bid to be finalized before he would have a concrete cost, but said the total figure would not exceed $17,000. He also said once established, the cost to maintain the program will be minimal.

As a way to defray some of the program startup cost, Cassville will host youth wrestling tournaments over the next two to three years. All monies raised from these events will go toward purchasing equipment for the high school program.

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