Calloway County wrestling teams Head Coach Chris McWherter lamented that the team had no seniors this year after losing Dylan Bell, Tristan Ives, Hailey Watson, Jenny, and Tori Doughty last year. He said that this year, no one could emerge as a leader and guide the youngsters. Someone who could set an example for others to follow.
McWherter asserted that there were a lot of talented youngsters in the Lakers team like Juniors Keaton Elliot and Nick Watters, both returning state qualifiers. Sophomore Luke Cullop is also a returning athlete. Two-time state qualifier Ethan Futrell who transferred from Trigg County to Calloway in August.
Chris Champion, Head Coach of the Laker Football Team, has allowed his players to try their hand at wrestling as he believes it will improve their wrestling skills. Watters and Cullop both began wrestling after playing in the football team and are today members of the Laker wrestling team also.
McWherter also encouraged his wrestlers to play different sports and was happy that coaches of other sports were also doing the same.
Wrestling and American football both need immense reserves of power and stamina. Football players who transition to wrestling will need to build on their flexibility while wrestlers who transition to football will need to work on their speed. Both involve tackles. Both involve making the movements. Thus, Footballers can supplement their speed and power with flexibility by taking up wrestling, and wrestlers can improve their agility by taking up football.
To deal with his talented but inexperienced team, McWherter has changed his coaching tactics this year. He says, “I’ve focused a lot more on natural instincts instead of breaking down volumes and encyclopedias worth of technique. We’re gravitating more towards the natural athlete, the natural athleticism that most of these kids have.”
Thus, McWherter has focused on working the basics of his wrestling team. Get them to a point where they begin reacting instinctively rather than having to think and act by which it’s already too late. With seniors, McWherter was already past this point, and he could focus on refining their technique. With this team, he will have to be patient and slowly adapt them to the fundamentals of wrestling.
McWherter expressed satisfaction about the schedule of Calloway County wrestling team under which they played 40 to 50 matches every year, including ones against the top teams in Kentucky, Illinois, and Tennessee. He felt like Calloway always peaked towards the end of the season.
On the level of competition, McWherter said, “If you put stock in state rankings, we’ve got three of the top four teams in our region, and you have to place top-four to go to the state tournament.”
Another problematic issue for McWherter is the lack of wrestlers at lower weight classes. Admitting the problem, he said, “We’re still looking to pick up some of the smaller kids walking the halls of the school that have yet to find a sport. Those are obviously glaring holes for us, but we’re going to try to fill them.”
In the end, McWherter said that they would work with the talent they had and ensure that they improved throughout the year so that the team could reach the level expected from it.