Sometimes, the best metaphors in sports involve breakfast foods.
Going into the 2018-19 season, Seymour High School wrestling coach Todd Weaver and his staff sat the team down and shared a story.
“A legendary coach at Minnesota was being interviewed and was asked why it took so long to become a top-five program after 10 years (unranked) and how he maintained the consistency the rest of his career,” Weaver said.
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“He told a story about going out in the barnyard and telling the pigs and chickens that breakfast needed to be made tomorrow,” he said. “The chicken says it will bring the eggs, and the pig said they will bring the bacon. One of those groups is giving you everything they’ve got, and the others are giving you the minimum. He said that when he got to Minnesota, he only had people willing to give eggs, and it took a long time for people to bring the bacon.”
This winter, Weaver wants his team to bring the bacon.
“Yeah, we’re getting better, but nobody is reaching their potential because nobody wants to bring the bacon,” he said. “Everyone just wants to bring eggs, and that’s not good enough for us. We have goals, and we want to reach them. We want to get over that hump.”
In the 2017-18 season, the Owls finished 15-8 in dual meets. They placed sixth in the Hoosier Hills Conference before bouncing back to take third at sectional.
At the regional in Jeffersonville, the Owls showed a glimpse of their potential by finishing runners-up. It was the best regional result since the 1979 season.
Individually, the Owls had nine regional qualifiers and seven semistate qualifiers. The number of advancing semistate wrestlers was a school record for the program.
While Weaver was glad to see his team make some jumps last season, he wants more.
The Owls have never won the HHC or a regional. The last time they won a sectional was 1994.
Seymour hasn’t qualified a wrestler for the state finals since 2007.
“Our talk at the beginning of the season was, yes, we’ve improved and our numbers have grown, but no team has reached its potential,” Weaver said. “We could have done so much last year and the years before that. Even though we’re getting better, we could have more. The focus was that we have a bunch of kids that are bringing eggs and not the bacon.”
This year, the Owls have grown from 27 to 40 wrestlers. This season, seven girls also went out for the team.
“We only lost a couple kids from last year,” Weaver said. “We had a freshman group come in, and we have some girls on the team this year. We had one on the team the past two years, Rachel (Hokoana-Yamaguchi), and now, we have seven girls participating.
“We made an effort of giving the opportunity to girls. There are talks right now that women’s wrestling will be an NCAA sport next year. Even if there isn’t, there are some DI and DII colleges that offer women’s wrestling. There are a lot of opportunities out there, especially on the international stage.”
Two of the returning semistate wrestlers from last winter are Alejandro Sachinas and Gabe Ramirez.
Ramirez said the seniors have tried to help lead the younger wrestlers.
“We have a lot of really talented guys,” he said. “Compared to last year, we had some good young guys. I think they will be even better than last year. It’s going to be a show.”
Sachinas feels this year’s team will have a mental edge.
“It’s all mental toughness,” he said. “Everything is up above. Everyone in this sport works. There are kids in other counties that are working just as hard as us. Once you get on the mat and you’re in front of that guy, it’s just you and him. If you lose the mental state, you’re done for.”
One of the big focuses this year is wrestling to score points, Weaver said. He felt that last season, the Owls weren’t aggressive enough at times, which led to not enough risks and fewer points scored.
Last week, on a snow day, Weaver said the team had its best practice of the year. He said his kids are anxious to get the season in full swing.
“On Thursday, when we were out of school and had practice, it was easily the best practice we’ve had since we’ve been here,” Weaver said. “The intensity was there the whole time. We didn’t even do hard conditioning at the end because our wrestling was so hard. Part of our emphasis this year is wrestling to put points on the board. Everyone did that. Nobody held back, and there were no egos.
“If we wrestle like we did (Nov. 15), it will be an exciting style to watch. They’re not scared of the guys they were scared of last year. We have a group that likes to wrestle and is aggressive.”