Salina Wildcats Wrestling – Presented by Hookers Sports Grill

The Wildcats wrestling program at Salina High School has been one of steady growth and determination. They are currently ranked #8 in Class 3A duals and kicked off their season going 9-0 in the Jay Tournament. Head coach Matt Simmons says that was a good starting point, but the work won’t stop there.

Last year’s team may have been on the younger side, but what is left is a group that has been in the fire and can now lead the eager underclassmen. At the front of the pack are five returning state qualifiers – seniors Corbin McCarty (two-time state qualifier) and Dathan Leach, juniors Brier Smith and Tyler Small, and sophomore Hunter Fitzpatrick. Eleven of last year’s fourteen starters have returned to the mat, with the additions of some freshmen with accomplished junior high records. Two freshmen to keep an eye on are Jack Wilkins, who went undefeated at the Jay Tournament, and Gavin Montgomery, who Coach Simmons describes as “tough.”

Simmons is now in his sixth year as head wrestling coach at Salina, and is starting to see the payoff for patiently developing the program. “The development starts at a younger age,” said Simmons. He credits Jarred Sorum, elementary wrestling coach, with being instrumental in the process of building these athletes up so that they can have successful junior high and high school careers. Assistant coaches Jeremy Hooker and Patrick McCarty have also been great contributors.

Looking ahead to the rest of the season, the Wildcats are looking forward to competing in some tough tournaments. The Cushing Tournament in particular will be a big one for gauging their level of growth. More so than ever, the guys will need to keep in mind a team motto of theirs –  “Weak Things Break” – reminding them that talent only goes so far, but a strong mindset and mental toughness will bring success.