It’s wrestling season, and the Festus Tigers are ready to roar! The Tigers will return four big guns from last year’s starting lineup, and look to add in some younger talent to build on as well. Festus always has high expectations of their wrestling team, and this season, the younger wrestlers will look to these returners as leaders.
Senior Luke Shaver is the first of those big guns. Shaver is a three-time state qualifier, and in fact took home the bronze last year at the state tournament. He also made first team all-conference.
Jordan Banks is another strong returner with a lot of potential. As a senior, Banks will attempt to improve upon his 39-11 record from last season. He missed state qualifying by one match, but will no doubt be a leader on this team. And you can bet he has some extra motivation this year.
Andrew Nahlik, also a senior, was injured last season after turning in a 19-3 record. Despite the injury, Nahlik was named first team all-conference. If he can stay healthy, he will definitely be a force for Festus.
Austin Neff is the youngest of the four. With a 33-17 record last year, Neff made second team all-conference as a Sophomore. His potential is strong, and as a junior this season, he will look to make big strides.
Head Coach Jason Nahlik believes his team will once again be strong, and sees the strength of his roster as its eagerness to learn. “We have a large number of new wrestlers, and they are soaking up everything we throw at them. We will be a work in progress. Without a middle school team, our athletes lack the experience, which will create a steep learning curve,” said Nahlik.
With a young team, it’s important to find those freshmen standouts early, and look to bring them along quickly. Bobby Buehre, Lucas Mercurio, Kyle Kellogg and Chris Bentrup are four possible future Festus stars. According to Nahlik, “These young men look good in the practice room, are putting in the time, and seem to have a natural ability.”
Nahlik also mentioned that his heavyweight division has some depth. Connor Holt, Austin Reece, and Braden Hanlon are three of the big boys that have looked good so far.
Nahlik is uncertain of what the season will actually look like. With Covid-19 rules changing things frequently, Nahlik said, “Our schedule seems to change daily and I am constantly working on replacing meets or tournaments that are being cancelled or trimmed down in the number of teams allowed. I have never experienced anything like this before.” He continued, “With all the uncertainty of Covid, meets being cancelled or rescheduled, and tournaments being cancelled, it is a crazy time we are living in right now. I am stressing to all of my wrestlers and parents to be patient this year and just roll with the punches. Hopefully we will get a full season in.”
One thing is certain, however. Festus will be ready for whatever is thrown at them.