After seeing what may have been one of the most successful seasons in Western High School wrestling history last year, the 2018-2019 Panthers are back and more threatening than ever.
Going into the new school year Western managed to build up some pressure for what their expectations as a team and individually as wrestlers will look like. With already being guaranteed a spot as a team in state this year and having two wrestlers, Hunter Cottingham and Dylan Goudy competing in state last year, Coach Chad Shepherd is looking to see an IHSAA Team State Championship victory.
As he readies to coach his 20th season with the Panthers, he is hopeful for an action-packed season, but knows not to get too excited.
“There’s a lot of potential,” said Shepherd. “What I’ve learned over the past 20 years with 14 to 18 year-old kids is that sometimes I haven’t made the best decisions, sometimes teenagers don’t make the best decisions, and sometimes bad things happen. It’s hard to stay pretty even keel about wrestling. But I am excited, our coaches are excited, but we still have jobs to do before we accomplish anything."
In hopes to have a state-champion caliber season, more than half of the wrestling Panthers have put together grueling summer workouts with Coach Trevor Young in order to improve their game.
Wrestlers, Lane Eubank – heavyweight, Hunter Cottingham – 138-pound, Gage Holder – 160-pound, Dylan Goudy – 138-pound, Chandler Ciscell – 120-pound, Braydon Erb – 220-pound, and Hayden Shepherd – 138-pound, were all active this summer as they went to skills camps and competed in tournaments in order to take their team to state this winter.
The young men all attended a team skills wrestling camp this past June at Southern Illinois University where they picked up new offensive and defensive techniques. For Erb, the camp provided a few insights to wrestling that helped himself and his teammates.
“The coaches and staff there were great,” said Erb. “I feel like, aside from the technical knowledge we learned, it also helped our team bond in a way we had never really bonded before.”
Both Goudy and Erb were able to increase their overall wrestling skills as they competed for Team Indiana in the USMC/USA Wrestling Cadet and Junior Freestyle National Championships in Fargo, North Dakota. As a sophomore, Erb managed to go 4-2 at the highly-prestigious, invite-only tournament. He lost his first match to then go onto win four-straight matches to ultimately fall shy of an eighth place finish. Erb fell just shy of a strong finish, losing to North Dakota’s four-time state champion in the final match.
“I am pretty happy with how my summer went,” said Erb. “I feel like we saw some good talent. Would have been nice to have seen some more matches this summer, but now I’m just ready for football season.”
As the Wrestling Panthers return to school this week, most will spend time in pads and help the football team take another shot at winning their sectional, while others like Goudy will be in the wrestling room five to six times a week. Regardless, the Panthers have not taken a break since last year and are ready to make history this year.