Madras wrestlers eager to make leaps
For a Madras wrestling program looking to establish some momentum, the offseason between last winter and now was a huge step in the right direction.
Like several coaches at Madras, Buffs' head coach Cameron Mitchem is a strong proponent of multisport athletes.
So when guys like Harrison Manu, Catalino LeClaire and Thomas LeClaire went out for track and field in the spring, then were joined in football last fall by the likes of William Lemus and Tyrell Reynoso, they were contributing to other team, while also preparing themselves mentally in advance of wrestling season.
That aforementioned group, all of whom are seniors, are undeniably the heart and soul of the Buffs' wrestling team.
Manu holds the distinction of being the only state qualifier of the group, most recently finishing fifth in the 182-pound division at last year's state tournament. It's a strong possibility others could join him this year, however.
"I think we have a lot of guys who are going to state this year," Reynoso said. "I'm pretty confident, because last year we had a lot of disappointments."
"Their attitudes are awesome," Mitchem added. "I'm really excited to see (Harrison) finish it out, but also those other guys. They've taken that mental jump and (are) learning how to compete and win. They carry it through the room every day."
Most, if not all of the senior group, plus a couple others, will likely make jump up a weight class this season.
Reynoso is set to wrestle at 152, and Catalino LeClaire at 160.
Kody Zemke and Thomas LeClaire will hold down the 170 and 182 divisions, though they will wait to see where each of them is best suited.
Manu is set to jump up to 195. He did the same at the beginning of last season, before determining that he was a better fit in 182.
It led him to his best finish at state, where he was also joined by Thomas LeClaire, who was in attendance to help Manu prepare for matches. Although he was a spectator, the atmosphere got him thinking about qualifying and competing there.
"It was great," LeClaire said. "This year, I'm trying to get there myself."
Lemus returns the most experience in the 220 division, though newcomers Alex Hernandez and David Sumner will also be in the mix.
Including transfer Dalton Cortazar and returner Rope Reese, Madras should field a competitive lineup from 138 up to the heavyweight division.
Madras will stay Central Oregon for the first three weeks of the season, beginning on Saturday at the Officials Tournament, hosted at Summit High School.