Prominent grapplers return for SouthridgeNovember 6, 2020
By COREY STOLZENBACH
HUNTINGBURG — Southridge will see a lot of its wrestlers return to the mat this year, but is also trying to increase its numbers for 2020-21.
The Raiders will have plug somebody into the 182 and 285-pound classes after the graduations of Weston Allen and Cade Patton, respectively.
They’ll also be tasked with somebody trying to take the spot of the graduated Sam Schroeder in the 160-pound class. Schroeder won the sectional and regional championships last year in his class, and now wrestles at Bellarmine University (Ky.).
“You’re not going replace a Sam Schroder,” Southridge coach Kurt Collins said. “You’re not going to just walk the halls and find a kid that’s going to replace Cade Patton and what he was able to do last year. You’re not going to easily find a replacement for Trevor Hunefeld or Weston Allen — you just can’t do it.”
However, Collins made it clear that the Raiders should not be underestimated. They’re also returning quite a few key pieces from their 2019-20 season.
Sophomores Xavier Horton and Eric Vanegas won sectional championships last year in the 120 and 220-pound classes, respectively.
Junior Carson Niehaus won one in the 138-pound class.
Horton and Niehaus joined Schroeder and Allen at semistate last year.
Collins is excited that all of them are coming back.
He hailed Horton as “extremely talented,” and one of the top technicians in the room when he’s at practice. Collins believes Niehaus a lot of good wrestling left in him, while Vanegas overcame injuries and football and wrestling to make it to regionals.
“That says a lot about him and his heart and his fight,” he said of Vanegas. “(I) always have liked Eric. He’s always worked hard and done a good job, and I think he just needs to continue to do what he does, work on his technique and he’ll be right back where he was at again.”
Collins has high hopes for senior Tanner Kane. In fact, he thinks Kane has the best chance of anybody to represent Southridge at state this year. Kane qualified for semi-state as a sophomore, though he went through injuries as a junior.
“I look for a lot of success out him this season,” Collins said. “If he stays healthy and he manages to get through the season without injury, I think he could be another state contender. I really do.”
Some freshmen who could work their way into Southridge’s lineup include Carter Anderson, and twins Cameron and Jayden Fogle.
Collins thought Anderson improved his technique from his seventh grade year to his eighth grade year, but he thinks any of them could land on varsity at some point because the COVID-19 pandemic could force some wrestlers into quarantine.
The Pocket Athletic Conference has expanded this year. Southridge already had to contend with some noted teams in North Posey and Tell City before the expansion.
Collins thinks that Tell City is going to have a really good year, but the 1989 Southridge grad was part of a streak of 16 consecutive PAC team championships that occurred from 1979-1994. He has a lot of pride about that, and wants his alma mater to reclaim the PAC title.
“It can only get harder,” he said. “I personally, as an individual, as a Raider wrestler myself, I want to put us back on top of that. I come from a time in the midst of a 16-year streak. I want that streak back. That’s very important to me that we would win that conference.”
He knows that Floyd Central, the defending sectional champions, will always be tough to beat, but he loves wrestling the Highlanders because of how high they’ve set the bar.
Jasper also finished ahead of the third place Raiders in the 2020 sectional, and Collins wants to get the advantage in the county rivalry.
Southridge will get a look at the Highlanders Jan. 14 at home, and get together with the Wildcats Jan. 19 in Jasper.
In the meantime, they’re currently getting ready for their season debut, scheduled at the Nov. 25 Edgewood Invite.
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