|Quality wrestlers take to the mats|
|Written by Brenda Johnson Brandt|
“We don’t have quantity, but we have a lot of quality,” said HHS wrestling coach Duane Stroh about his nine-member Dragon team. While the team is small in numbers, Stroh said he believes every kid has the ability to make it to the state tournament. The only problem will be not all may make the team, as several fall within similar weights.
Stroh believes Holyoke will have a strong tournament team, but will be weak at duals, with no upper-weight wrestlers. With all team members being well-skilled, they’re advancing quickly, noted Stroh. “They’ll be strong at the end of the year,” he added. The Dragons open at the Akron Invite Saturday, Dec. 6 and will host the Holyoke Invitational Saturday, Dec. 13.Five returning letterwinners lead this year’s Dragon team. They include junior Chad Stroh, returning state champion at 119 pounds; junior Luke Garrett and sophomore Brian Strong, who were both one round away from placing on the state mats last year; and sophomores Seth Baker and Skyler Dittmer, who both finished in sixth place at last year’s regionals.
Other team members include senior Brandon Price, who wrestled as a seventh grader and younger, but has not competed on the HHS wrestling team until this year. Also new to the team are freshmen Mark Edmonds, Parker Redfern and Broc Pelle. All were league champs in last year’s junior high tourney, and Pelle won fourth place at the junior high state meet.
Projected weight classes for the team members are Edmonds at 103, Redfern and Strong at 119, Stroh 125, Baker 130, Dittmer 135, Pelle 140, Price 145 and Garrett 160. This is Stroh’s second year as head coach for the Dragons, but he has numerous years in assistant and volunteer coaching roles.
Assisting Stroh are Dusty McConnell and volunteers Jeremy Dirks and Levi Garrett. McConnell has coached in local wrestling programs for close to a decade and returns for his second year as the official HHS assistant. Dirks was a volunteer coach for the team last year. As a college wrestler, he earned All-American honors in 1997 and qualified for the national tournament three times, placing fourth one year. Garrett is a 2008 HHS graduate. He qualified for the state tournament three years, placing sixth as a junior and fifth as a senior, both at 215 lbs. Team managers for the Dragon wrestlers are Ann McConnell, Sam Redfern, Kaziah Dagel and Mariah Struckmeyer.