If an author was to pen a narrative covering the Longhorn wrestling team’s 2011-12 season, it might be best titled “Just keep plugging along.”
That’s what the team’s mostly young and untested matmen do as they battle each foe with a spirited determination despite having to forfeit four weight classes and 24 points before action begins.
The lack of a full lineup card is tough on a coach, but that has not deterred Casey Woodall’s enthusiasm for his athletes, “The boys are working hard and I definitely feel like we are making progress.
“We are just really inexperienced and in a tournament like McClintock, that get’s exposed early.”
The tournament the coach is referring to is the McClintock Charger Invitational contested Dec. 16 and 17 in Tempe.
There, the Horns challenged some of Division I’s (formerly Class 5A) best programs including Tucson Sunnyside, which has won countless “big school” championships and last year set a national record of 310 dual meet victories in a row.
“Hopefully the kids see a program like Sunnyside at this tournament and realize that those kids aren’t wrestling for three months in the winter,” said Woodall. “It’s year-round, it’s a lifestyle, not just a sport.”
The coach predicts it is that kind of commitment “it will take to get back to the level that we expect for this program.”
Individually at McClintock, senior Jacob Spear turned in a stellar performance, but finished fourth after losing to Division I’s No. 1 and No. 3 ranked wrestlers.
Dallin Macnab, Conner Anderson and Anselmo Vasquez were just one round shy of placing, but lost close decision.
“Kyle Brown and Austin Armstead also turned in scrappy performances,” Woodall said.
The wrestlers will now have a brief holiday action respite before returning to the mat Jan. 4 at the Mogollon Multiple meet in Heber.
This will be followed by the Catalina Invitational in Tucson Jan. 6-7; the Show Low Duals, Jan. 11; the Payson Invitational — the Horns only home event, Jan. 20-21.