As the Maryville boy’s wrestling team prepares for the season to begin, coach Dallas Barrett is getting ready to build on last year’s experience as he moves forward into his second year at the helm of the program.
At the beginning of last season, Barrett was promoted to head coach with the departure of the former coach Kody Koster before the end of the 2018-19 season. Barrett filled the position with little coaching experience, but was well-equipped with wrestling experience from being a state qualifier in high school, college wrestling and competing in MMA.
“Having those college drills and college perspectives really kind of shows you what types of techniques you use in college versus what you use in high school, which you aren’t really going to ever use,” Barrett said. “Then you get in the MMA, it’s much more individualized, so you kind of lose that team aspect, but having all that experience really helped.”
Despite Barrett's lack of coaching experience, senior Kieren Watkins was excited to learn from him and was ready to adjust to the new coaching style.
“Everybody’s coaching style is a little bit different,” Watkins said. “But we have definitely picked up the pace on conditioning and practicing in general. Every coach’s wrestling style is different, and he knows a lot of really good things that he has been teaching us.”
Over the course of his first season, Barrett dealt with many challenges, but injuries were the most tedious.
“There are always the daily challenges, which are always different,” Barrett said. “But last year there was the challenge of just keeping everybody healthy, injury-wise, and guys like Connor Weiss that were injured coming out of football, we had several of them that were just banged up from their last football game, so that was definitely a big challenge last year.”
As Barrett had to navigate the challenges of health, he also had to adjust with the rules, which were different from when he was in high school.
Even after settling in and working out all the challenges of being a first-year coach, Barrett feels as if he is right back to his first year with the ongoing complications of COVID-19.
“Now that we got all of those things figured out, we are now on to our new struggles with COVID-19 and everything that it changes with this season,” Barrett said. “It almost feels like my first year again.”
With that first year behind him, Barrett is excited to move into his second season and is glad to have gained that experience.
“It was a great experience,” Barrett said. “I mean, just kind of the feeling of getting back into the sport. It’s a whole different experience when it’s kids instead of being for yourself. It’s a whole different feeling of accomplishment and you want the kids to succeed.”
Along with Barrett, Watkins is excited to get a second season with him, as Watkins was impressed with how Barrett stepped up into the coaching role last season.
“Overall, I am really looking forward to a second season,” Watkins said. “I know for him, I can imagine, it is difficult to step in and fill the shoes of the previous coaching staff. I thought he did his best last season and did a great job and I know that things will only get better now that he’s got a year of experience.”
Heading into his second season, Barrett is most excited to get to watch every one of his athletes succeed and compete throughout this whole year, should COVID allow that to happen.
“I am just excited to see the guys achieve their goals,” Barrett said. “I mean, districts and state are full of fun but if you only look forward to that then you are ignoring your whole year. Every win matters, especially for those inexperienced guys, winning one or two matches over the year is like making it to state for them. Every win and every success is what I look forward to the most this season.”