Panther coach reflects on good wrestling season
The Royal Valley High School wrestling team ended its season Saturday with two wrestlers on the podium at the 3-2-1A state tournament in Hays, including senior Charles Todd (285 pounds), who joined the team mid-season.
“Charles is arguably one of the most talented wrestlers to ever come through the Royal Valley wrestling program considering the success he had in the amount of time that he spent on the mats,” said coach Jason Puderbaugh.
Todd, who placed third at state, began wrestling as an eighth-grader and wrestled his full freshman and sophomore seasons.
As a junior, he sustained an injury during the football season. He wrestled for a couple of weeks in January and then elected not to finish his junior season, Puderbaugh said.
“Now, as a senior, Charles, with the mentoring of family, friends and coaches, decided mid-season to give wrestling a try again. Two months later, he finished third in the state,” he said.
Todd finished his senior year with a record of 30-5 and a career record of 60-25, with 17 of those losses during his sophomore year, which was his first year on varsity, Puderbaugh said.
Sophomore Dalton Ware (106 pounds) ended his season with a fifth-place medal at the state tournament and a 40-10 record.
“Dalton went 3-2 in the state tournament making it all the way to the semi-finals before losing his first match. He then lost by a very tight one-point margin decision, narrowly missing the consolation finals match,” Puderbaugh said. “He closed out his sophomore season and state tournament with an exciting win by fall to take fifth.”
Other RV wrestlers who competed at state were sophomore Lance Bailey (120 pounds), junior Jacob Box (182 pounds) and seniors Noah Hart (152 pounds) and Zack Lux (138 pounds).
Todd, Hart and Lux are the only seniors on this year’s team.
“Our seniors were an amazing group and accomplished so much,” Puderbaugh said. “Words can't describe how proud I am of them in not only their wrestling accomplishments but how they have grown as young men. They will be greatly missed, and I know that the legacy that they have left behind for those that will follow is one that will play an important role in the future growth of our wrestling program.”
Puderbaugh said the team had many successes in the 2015-2016 season. Seven wrestlers out of the 14 in the varsity lineup ended the season with more than 30 wins.
“We were very fortunate that even though we only had 16 kids on the roster, we were able to fill 14 weight classes this year,” he said. “So that was awesome to be able to enjoy the benefits of that.”
The team placed second in the Big 7 league tournament and had a 28-7 dual record. Six wrestlers qualified for state, and the team placed 12th out of 66 teams in the state tournament.
“Our 2015-16 wrestling team is not only one for the record books, but every member of our team made our team very special,” Puderbaugh said. “We were a very close wrestling family that joked, had fun, enjoyed a lot of laughs, worked hard and encouraged each other all season long. Our team fully embraced the season slogan of ‘all in.’”
Puderbaugh said the team’s younger wrestlers are already looking to next year.
“I had a couple of kids come up to me at the regional tournament and tell me that they were going to state next year and that they would make it happen. So they are motivated,” he said. “Now we’ll try to take some of the hunger that the kids had after regionals and use that to motivate them to do some off season work. If we can get them to do that, we’ll come back next year even stronger.”