The Pulaski County Cougars wrestling team looks to start the season with a winning mindset heading into the upcoming season.
According to head coach Robert Alger, this upcoming season should prove to be interesting. This is because the season will be coming amid the COVID19 pandemic.
“This year’s season should prove to be interesting, considering all of the restrictions brought about by COVID,” Alger said. “Nonetheless, the plan is to move forward and simply work hard, prepare, and do what we can to get into a winning mindset.”
Alger started out coaching rec league, then transitioned to club wrestling, to middle school until eventually becoming the head coach of the high school team. By his side is Adam Abdelaziz, who worked as a coach at the high school.
Alger says that Abdelaziz has an excellent rapport with the wrestlers and is a capable conditioning coach.
This year’s roster will have wrestlers returning from the previous season.
The seniors on the roster include Zeke Surber, who wrestled in the heavyweight division. Another senior includes team captain, Grayson Deu, who wrestled at 170 lbs. last year. Rounding out the seniors is Damian Fowlkes, who wrestled at 145 lbs. last season.
According to Alger, all three were major contributors last season, with Deu and Fowlkes both qualifying for the 4A State Tournament. Surber, in his first season as a wrestler, was an alternate for the tournament.
“These three guys will bring great leadership to the team and will be models of what hard works look like,” said Alger.
The sole returning junior is Marcus Hayden, who wrestled at 182 lbs., and Alger says that Hayden has made great improvement from his previous season.
Alger said that the rest of the team will be dominated by underclassmen, with 10 out of the 14 wrestlers being freshmen and sophomores.
The returning sophomores include Gavin Warner, who wrestled at 106 lbs. and was a 4A state qualifier.
Another sophomore who is coming back is Nicholaus Golden, who wrestled at 120 lbs. and was also a 4A state qualifier. Golden also won the Most Improved Wrestler Award last season.
Also returning as a sophomore is Molly Keller, who wrestled at 126 lbs., and was the Cougar Heart Award winner last season.
Team Captain Evan Alger will also return this season as a sophomore. Last season, Alger wrestled at 152 lbs. and was a Team Captain, a 4A State qualifier and was the winner of the Most Valuable Wrestler Award.
Rounding out the sophomores are Connor Gallimore, who wrestled at 160 lbs. and Tre Hayden, who wrestled at 220 lbs.
Alger said that if all goes as he hopes, the team will fill every weight class, which is something the Pulaski County High School team hasn’t done in quite some time.
“I truly feel we are building something special here. Something that is going to be very successful and very fun to watch. I’m a realist, and I know we will likely take our lumps at times over the next season or so. I truly believe that in the next few years, you will witness a PCHS team the likes of which have never been seen before,” exclaimed Alger.
Practice for the Cougars begins on December 14th, with their first match beginning on Jan. 5.
By LUCAS GOAD, The Patriot