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MTZ wrestling ready for season

Staff Writer

The Mt. Zion Wrestling team starts its season. For Braves’ head coach Dave Klemm the goal is to get a full varsity roster and get as many competitors into the sectional tournament.

Coach Klemm described the first couple weeks as very exciting after having 30 kids in the program.

“For the first time since I’ve been here, I think we’re two deep in each weight class, which is really important,” Coach Klemm said. “We have a lot of freshmen and quite a few sophomores so our team is really young, but they’re really eager and really hungry and they’re working really hard.”

Coach Klemm said that the focus areas were the basics of wrestling when it comes to technique and motion as well as conditioning. The Braves continue this focus from the beginning of the season and throughout the season.

The Braves return Mason Gray and Remington Hiser who were sectional qualifiers along with senior leader Aiden Ledbetter. Coach Klemm expects freshman Rylyn Owens at 145 and Sydney Cannon at 106 to be huge impacts for his team in terms of leadership.

Ledbetter has taken what he learned from his times as a freshman and implemented that into his senior season. Ledbetter said that he was pushed hard by seniors when he started out and has done the same for this year’s freshman in hopes that they will succeed.

“What that looks like is if some of them are lacking motivation, I just kind of go up to them, talk to them a little bit, give them a little bit of advice,” Ledbetter said. “Or if they’re struggling when it comes to moving, help them out a little bit. When it comes to conditioning, push on, make sure we’re all going 100%.”

Ledbetter’s team goal is to win ¾ of their total meets and individual goal is to make it to state. Ledbetter wants to be remembered by his teammates and coaches as a hard-worker, good team captain and good person.

Gray has been leading by example and has been doing that by staying focused. Gray said that it is easy for others to not be focused if he is showing that, so he wants to lead by example. Gray’s team goal is for the team to get better as the season progresses and individual goal is to make it to state.

Coach Klemm wants his leaders to be total leaders. What that means is he wants them to be leaders in the wrestling program and a leader in the classroom.

“There’s two kinds of leaders in the wrestling room, there’s the ones who really don’t say much, but they work really hard. That’s leadership by example. And then there’s the other guys that not only do they work hard, but then they’re also the ones that are getting things going and are the cheerleader to sort of speak. They’re the ones to pull the group together and verbally. So we take both kinds and I think we have both kinds. So that’s a good combination.”

Coach Klemm’s overall message to readers and the community is that his team will be exciting to watch, because they are well balanced.

“A lot of young kids are working really hard and we only have two home meets,” Coach Klemm said. So once we get the opportunity to have those two home meets, we’re really going to do the best we can to put on a good show for the fans and the kids get excited when that kind of thing happens. So that’s what it’s all about. Just try to get the excitement going and keep it going and keep it rolling.”

The Braves start their season in East St. Louis on Friday. The team will compete against East St. Louis, Cahokia and Granite City.

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