Maryville wrestling battled in the Midland Empire Conference championship Jan. 21 in Savannah.
The ‘Hounds came away with a sixth-place finish from the boys and a fifth-place finish from the girls squad. Despite the low finish as a team, Maryville has many positives to take and learn from as the season progresses.
A handful of wrestlers medaled, while Sophomore Kieren Watkins and Junior Amber Ebrecht were both able to come away with individual conference championships. Watkins took the 195-pound boys championship and Ebrecht came away with the 167-pound girls championship.
Coach Kody Koster was satisfied with the finish for both groups, though he did hope for a better outcome. Koster saw growth in his teams but still believes there is work to be done.
“All in all, the day went well for us,” Koster said. “The tournament provided us with a lot of opportunities for our wrestlers to learn from. The competition in our conference is at a pretty high level, so it just allows us to get more experience under our belts as well.”
The boys squad had three wrestlers medal and two narrowly miss the podium finishing in fourth. Koster was pleased with the placing and the effort the boys put into the tournament.
“Watkins has a gritty attitude on the mat, which shows when he wrestles,” Koster said. “He’s a guy who knows what he wants to do with his opponent and does what he can to carry that out in the match. To place first at the MEC tournament will also help when it comes to seeding for districts.”
Koster came away from the tournament with some confidence in the way the boys were competing on the mat, as did Sophomore Connor Weiss.
“Even though I didn’t have a great day in the tournament, it was nice to see my teammates have a successful day,” Weiss said. “We want to send a handful of guys to state to show the program is changing.”
The direction Koster would like to take the program is steadily improving throughout this season. The program has been forced to change due to lack of competition in years past.
Koster was just as pleased with the outcome from the girls’ squad.
“Amber just has some traits that you cannot really coach,” Koster said. “She really knows how to build off of her wins and losses. She has the drive to be the best wrestler on the mat at all times, that is just not something most athletes have.”
The girls were all able to place on the podium taking a gold, silver, and bronze medal in their respective weight classes. Koster saw many positive things from the girls in the conference tournament.
“The girls have been improving day-by-day throughout the entire season,” Koster said. “They should end the year strong as they have been competing at a high level lately.”
With the end of the season approaching Maryville is preparing to compete in districts and possibly state. The attitude of the team appeared as though they had something to prove with the postseason coming. The best way for the team to accomplish this goal is to send as many athletes to districts and state.