State qualifiers Bina, Yoder pave road for Hillsboro wrestling
If there’s a coach that has a good grip on knowing what it’s like to start from the ground and work up, it is Trojan wrestling coach Scott O’Hare.
With seven seniors gone, including four Class 3-2-1A state qualifiers, and a team that’s short on experience and thin in numbers, O’Hare is facing just such a a start as he begins his seventh season.
Among the missing are Robbie McClelland, Tyler Jones, John Hein, and Hillsboro’s all-time leader in victories, Nick Mueller, who finished fifth in 2009.
While graduation cleaned out O’Hare’s drawer on success, experience, and techniques, it didn’t wipe out potential or physical and mental tenacity.
How well the younger wrestlers can adjust to varsity competition, different weight classes, and filling out will be O’Hare’s major challenges in 2009-10.
So far, the Trojans are still looking to fill voids in the 103-, 112-, 215-, and 285-pound weight classes, and O’Hare has a slew of competitors vying for action in several weight classes.
Of Hillsboro’s six state qualifiers a year ago on a team that finished a surprising 35th, only senior Matt Yoder and junior Aaron Bina return.
Still, O’Hare is no stranger to the complication and his teams have always been known for intensity, grittiness, and success.
“We are lacking in experience from previous years, but we have a decent core back,” O’Hare said. “We return two state qualifiers, including Matt who will remain at 135 pounds, and Aaron who will jump from 140 pounds to 160 pounds.
“We also return four other varsity wrestlers as well as a couple of decent JV wrestlers from a year ago that will fill in nicely.”
Yoder hit the jackpot in his first year wrestling, advancing to state, and his return makes the Trojans’ 135-pound class one of its forces.
Yoder is as resilient and intense as any on the team, and with an improved technique, O’Hare looks for him to be even better.
Bina’s the lone competitor for the 160-pound division, and how well he can continue to improve his technique to handle the size increase will determine whether he can return to Hays.
The 112-pound vacancy should be filled by Christmas break by freshman Mitchell Day.
Day has impressed O’Hare with his strength, quickness, and explosiveness, along with his physical skills.
Should Day make the weight class and continue to improve, he could be on the verge of a breakout career.
Bret Mueller, Nick’s brother, is fresh off making great strides in filling his brother’s huge shoes in cross-country.
Bret came on strong late last year as a freshman for the junior varsity, wrestling in the 112-pound division.
This year, Bret’s competing a class up at 119, but he’s shown signs of being the same fiery competitor that made his brother one of Hillsboro’s all-time greats.
Another freshman, Lucas Sinclair, fills the 125-pound class and possesses great athleticism, work ethic, competitiveness, and a great attitude.
“Lucas is just taking everything in and wants to improve and be successful,” O’Hare said. “He is one that I see surprising some people, especially the second half of the season.”
Darren Mueller, Nick and Bret’s brother, is the Trojans’ 130-pound participant.
Darren wrestled at 125 pounds as a sophomore, and a strong off-season to improve his speed and agility, has also caught attention.
Senior Dimitri McClelland, Robbie’s brother, and junior Justin King are adjusting to the move from JV in the 140- and 145-pound class, respectively.
Dimitri came on strong late, too, a year ago, and both he and King, like Yoder, possess good motors that never quit and physical flair.
The 152-pound senior Jared King spent much of last season having to bump around between weight classes.
The move back to his more natural weight this season is one O’Hare figures to be beneficial for both himself as well as the team.
“He has looked very good so far and seems to be very focused this year,” O’Hare said. “His technique is really getting sharp, and I look for him to really come out this season.”
Matt Wiebe is another possible choice to challenge Jared.
There’s an ongoing battle to see who will fill the 171-pound slot, but junior Dylan Delk will be the varsity representative.
Delk bulked up in the offseason and despite his scrappiness and experience, he has a huge increase after competing last year at 140 and 145 pounds, and barely missed qualifying for state.
Delk has the physicality and tenacity, which should make him a bitter opponent for opposing teams.
Senior Evan Just, junior Colby Meier, and freshman Kevin Dies help make the 171-pound class the Trojans’ deepest.
The 189-pound class will be manned by either newcomers AJ Litchfield, exchange student Max Bertinchamp, or perhaps Dies.
The Trojans are likely to surrender points in the heavyweight classes of 215 and 285 pounds, lacking a wrestler weighing more than 200.
In a league outlook, O’Hare is expecting Marion, Hoisington, Smoky Valley, Halstead, and Lyons to be in the thick of the hunt of what should be a stacked MCAA league.
The Trojans don’t have a state-ranked competitor in the preseason unlike the past several years, but that doesn’t faze the Hillsboro coach as what happens in February means more than the rankings.
“What we lack in experience and sound technique I believe we will make up for in mental and physical toughness,” O’Hare said. “This is a very competitive and extremely coachable group and I think we will see tremendous improvement throughout the season and we could be very competitive down the stretch.
“We’ll struggle in duals due to the open weights, but I think we could surprise people in tournaments, especially as the year progresses.”