Some of the talent is gone, but the future remains bright for Copperas Cove.
After losing two athletes who each reached the state wrestling tournament last year, head coach Jeremy Shannon knows this season will be a challenge, but he is excited about the possibilities.
“I am looking forward to a productive and competitive wrestling season,” he said. “We lost a few good wrestlers, but I think this year’s team has a lot of potential. We have more experience coming back than what we had last year.”
Two-time district champion Julian Doubleday graduated following his state-tournament appearance, while senior Adrienne Burson was forced to give up the sport after tearing her ACL. As a junior Burson’s state-title run was ended in her fourth match by eventual third-place medalist and district rival Kylra Gibson, of Ellison.
Still, Shannon believes he has plenty of pieces in place to remain a strong program.
“Lane Teeter, Bryce Delano, Christian Schaffer and Lane Robison amongst others are going to be the nucleus of our team on the guys’ side,” he said. “On the girls’ side, Uriah Kilwein returns, but new faces like Abigail McPhail and Jasmin Kim are up to the challenge.”
Copperas Cove begins its season today against Killeen and travels to Ellison on Saturday for a dual tournament with District 13-5A. In all, the Bulldawgs and Lady Bulldawgs will wrestle at six competitions, including a home match against Ellison on Dec. 19, before the District 13-5A meet Feb. 1 at Bryan. The top four wrestlers in each weight class advance to the Region IV meet held at San Antonio’s Blossom Athletic Center.
“Our district has been extremely competitive in past years, and I don’t see that easing up any,” Shannon said. “In order to compete well at district, we need to take one match at a time and focus on fundamentals. We need to improve each and every week leading into district, and then let the cards fall where they may.”
Lady Grey Wolves hope to extend dominance
Last season, the Shoemaker girls wrestling team won its fourth consecutive district title behind five individual champions.
This season, the Lady Grey Wolves want more.
Despite graduating Dineesha Jones, whose second-place showing at last year’s state tournament was the best of any Shoemaker wrestler since Emerald Solomon won gold in 2005, the Lady Grey Wolves believe more success could be in store if the team continues improving, according to head coach Ken Soloff.
“We’ve got five returning girls, three of them went to state and two of them have a good opportunity to qualify for state this year,” he said. “The core of the team is back, and if the young girls step up and pick up the skill level quickly then we’ll have a team that is very difficult to beat.”
Maya Little, Anne Ford and Harmony Maitland headline the team after reaching state last season, while Deedrah Cartons and Ruth Edwin round out the Lady Grey Wolves’ core.
The Grey Wolves have five returning wrestlers and should challenge for a district championship after finishing second a year ago.
Darnell Everett and Ezell Parks have the best chance of excelling at the regional meet, according to Soloff, but Josh Haynes and Kahlil Bryant should also contend for a state berth.
Nothing, however, is guaranteed, which is why Soloff loaded his schedule with difficult competition in hopes of accelerating the learning process.
“We’re wrestling schools in Houston, Dallas and San Antonio,” he said. “We’re not staying local. We are looking for teams that will make us better.”