Above all else, Andrew Peterson expects his kids to compete.
Peterson, in his fourth year at the helm of the South Albany High wrestling program, demands hard work on daily basis.
Led by a strong faction of returning juniors and seniors, the Rebels have taken their coach’s message to heart.
“The biggest thing we always say as a coaching staff is we’re looking for kids to go out there and compete,” Peterson said. “Each and every match, they should be doing that right from the start. The room intensity has been great from the get-go. We’ve got a good, solid group of guys that have put in some work over the last couple of years and we are really looking for them to perform for our team this year.”
The Rebels, who placed 19th at the 5A state championships last February, opened the 2016-17 season earlier this month with a fourth-place finish at the 18-team Tyrone S. Woods Memorial Tournament in Oregon City. South then placed 15th of 30 teams at last week’s Army Strong Coast Classic in North Bend.
Senior James Logan, a returning state competitor, won the 195-pound title in Oregon City and finished sixth in North Bend at the same weight.
“It felt amazing to win that title,” said Logan, who has been wrestling for 11 years. “But not only that, it was great just to wrestle those people. I had the most fun of my life.”
Added Peterson: “James is a kid that just competes no matter what. He just steps on the mat and just goes. He doesn’t care, and that’s the biggest thing we love about that kid. He could care less if you’re a world champion; he’s going to step on the mat and leave it all out there.”
Fellow senior Lane Hersha, a heavyweight, finished third in Oregon City and fifth in North Bend. Hersha also has state experience.
Junior Angel Huerta-Carrera and seniors Matt Roeser and Austin Wimer round out South’s state returnees.
Logan and Peterson also praised the development of senior Richard Monize, who took third at 160 in Oregon City.
“He’s really starting to see some of the fruits of his efforts over the last couple of years,” Peterson said of Monize. “We’ve traditionally had a strong upper section, and we’ve got that good group of kids up there again. We’ve got a couple seniors in our middle weights, and I think from our mid to our upper sections, we are going to be pretty tough overall.
“This is Year 4 for our coaching staff. We’ve got some kids that have been a part of the same system for four years now, and it’s been fun to watch them evolve as leaders and step into those roles. For us as a coaching staff we are kind of in a different spot, and that’s fun to see.”
The Rebels are thin on experience at the lighter weights, making preseason tournaments even more important.
Next up for South is the Dick Weisbrodt Invitational, held Friday at Lebanon. The Rebels open Mid-Willamette Conference play with a four-way dual meet at Woodburn on Jan. 4.
“We have a lot of newer kids that are coming in this year that haven’t wrestled at all,” Logan said. “And some of them are picking up stuff like a prodigy. It’s working really well for us. We have a few kids coming back that are advancing really well and are getting really good.”