It’s been a season for Savage-Horsemen wrestling where coaches and wrestlers alike had no idea what would unfold after the sudden loss of former head coach Kenny Marjerison.
“A long-standing precept of our team has always been our legacy. When you remove a bucket of water from the ocean, an absence is felt. The water senses the void—and new water rushes in to take its place. Overall talent ebbs and flows, but the team knows what is required of it. A greater absence than ever before was present in this season; Kenny’s departure left a tremendous vacancy in its wake,” said assistant coach Jake Lile.
Lile along with other assistant coaches Kenneth Beech, Rocky Wagoner and this season’s head coach Jeff Kujala have all made an effort to ensure they continue the traditions of building a solid competitive team.
“Once more, the absence was felt, and once more the team pressed together to fill it. Our kids fought to become better leaders, better teammates, better people, and better wrestlers. Of whom Kenny was the greatest in every regard. An atmosphere of excellence, a precedence set by Coach Marjerrison, will always persist in the mezzanine of Plains High School,” he added.
Lile continued to say that three area of focus for the team this year the applies to both on and off the mat were important aspects of building this season.
Control of emotions, control of fear and control of frustration.
“There are many parts of wrestling that is used both on and off the mat, these techniques and skills learnt through the sport really go much further than people think,” Lile said.
Lile explained that the word “control” was the best way to sum up the sport as a whole. He emphasized it wasn’t about controlling the opponent rather the whole aspect of a wrestler.
“The wrestler must control his body every waking moment; his weight is at war with his willpower. While all other athletes guzzle Gatorade and devour what their body asks of them after practice, the wrestler weighs his food carefully. Each meal is a sacrifice, and every part of it serves a purpose. The wrestler has one singular purpose,” explained Lile.
This all builds up and takes important presence in each wrestler striving to secure a post season title.
This season it’s a junior and senior wrestler that between them have 73 victories and only two losses as they headed into the divisional tournament last week in Superior.
Junior Josiah Vanderwall weighs in at 132 pounds. Josiah had zero wrestling experience stepping into his freshman year, said Lile.
“He’s been working like a wild man since day one. Josiah is a rare breed of wrestler. I don’t know if anyone has ever stepped into our room with more natural ability than Josiah has.”
“Often times as coaches we find ourselves yelling at him not to do something...until seconds later he does it anyways and scores off it,” he explained.
As if Vnderwall’s natural ability wasn’t enough, the wrestler has a what his coach’s call a killer instinct.
Senior Daniel Uli, who weighs in at 126 pounds, encompasses great leadership.
Daniel wrestled one year in grade school, other than that he had zero wrestling experience stepping into the room his freshman year.
“He’s now accrued well over 100 high school victories, entering the prestigious century club,” said Lile.
“His tremendous success this season is due to an exorbitant amount effort. Daniel is in the weight room every morning at 6 a.m. and he’s in there again on Sunday night. Daniel comes early and stays late,” he further explained.
Daniel has invested in himself having traveled across the country to go to the best camps.
“Daniel is the epitome of the adage, ‘Work hard in silence, and let your success make the noise,’” Lile said proudly of his wrestler.
Uli’s record going into divisionals was 36 wins and one loss. His one loss was to Hank Dunn of Eureka; Hank is ranked No. 3 in the state at 132 pounds. Daniel bumped up a weight just so he could wrestle Hank.
“It was a great match, and we lost. There aren’t a lot of Seniors out there who seek out adversity, but Daniel is one of them,” said Lile.
“When you have a kid who is undefeated at their weight class and bumps up to wrestle the toughest guy he can get his hands on in the next weight class, that’s when you know you have someone tough. It’s for this reason that I believe Daniel is going to be a state champion,” Lile explained further.
Vanderwall and Uli are said to be two of the kindest, happiest, and most respectful young men you will ever meet in the words of their wrestling coaches.
Both Lile and Kujala have said throughout the season that there are aspects the they look to imprint on their wrestlers to boost their confidences both on and off the mat.
Savage-Horsemen coaches are also hopeful that every wrestler is able to keep solid focus on the mat.
“We will be tough competition,” said Lile.
When asked leading up to the weekend’s events of any specific game day plans, he wasn’t willing to let his cards off his chest.
“Regardless of the outcome, each member of our team deserves to go. Everyone raises money for the program, everyone puts in work day-in and day-out, everyone is a part of our team. They’ve earned it,” said Lile.