NCHS seniors William Fish (#120) and Cole Mellott (#170) lead a small but determined group of wrestlers this winter. While Mellott missed the interview for an FFA meeting, Fish is excited for the season to begin. A two-time regional and state runnerup, Fish has been right there but wants to complete the journey. “I’ve gotten close two years now, and would like to finish off with a title,” said Fish. “I’d love to end it at the top, and get at least one championship.” Mellott is looking to do more than just qualify for state, and Fish thinks NCHS can get a couple of other medalists this season.
Ron Nelson enters his 48th year coaching the Tigers-with 36 of them as Head Coach. “I’m excited, ready to go,” smiled Nelson. “We finished up a good junior high season last Friday as SEWAC champs with nine firsts, six seconds and out of 20 kids, only three didn’t finish in the top three.” Despite not having the numbers to compete for a team title, Nelson likes his team and prospects for the future. “Hopefully if some of them progress like we think they should, then maybe four or five them can place at state this year,” said Nelson.
Pacen Gifford (#182) and Alaryn Craggs (#120) are the juniors, and Nelson likes how Gifford has started putting moves together, hopefully resulting in more success while Craggs continues to improve in his second year in the program. Gifford is a two-time state qualifier and is also expected to take the next step. Sophomore Damien Molzahn (#170) qualified for state last year, and is kind of stuck at the moment in the 170 pound weight class. “He’s gotten a bit bigger, but I understand he wants to keep that weight up for football and track purposes,” said Nelson. “But it’s tough with so few guys, and you can’t get the weights separated. We’ll see once he gets into shape.”
Freshmen Jasper Caldera (HWT) and James Cushman (#113) round out the team. “Jasper should be strong enough to compete-though I’m not sure how many come back in that weight class,” added Nelson. “And James will start at 113, he has wrestled quite a while now, he just needs to get stronger.”
Reygan Molzahn, Esmerelda Caldera and Camdon Fitzwater are team managers and assisting this year are John Thayer (4th at NCHS), Bobby Wiegel (1st at NCHS), Tug Coffman and Brandan Stewart. “That’s what makes a program great, these young guys,” said Nelson. “We owe a lot for what they’re doing for the program.”
The wrestling season gets underway with the Tiger Invitational this Friday starting at 10 a.m.