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1996-1997 School Year
Front Row: D. Gaum A. Thompson, B. Dipman, G. Kobold, T. Hunter. Back Row: Coach M. Sanders, Assistant Coach L. Sedlock, M. Spleiss, A. Koch, K. Mellen, S. Ralston, C. Berman, C. Vang, C. Borger.

The 1996-1997 wrestling team was young, but that did not stop them from working hard.  Their goal was to finish in the top three in the conference and to get students interested in wrestling. 

Unfortunately, the team again finished in 6th place with a 1-5 conference record.

Despite the poor conference showing, the team worked hard every day during practice.  “Wrestling is like a second family,” said freshman Woody Paaso.  “We work long and hard together.”

The captains this year were seniors Andrew Gau and Kevin Mellen.  Their common goal was to win State in their weight class. 

The team was the largest it had been in years with over 20 men and one woman making up the team. 

In addition to many new team members, there was also a new Assistant Coach, Lenny Sedlock.  “The wrestlers have great attitudes and a strong work ethic.  This makes for a strong team,” said Sedlock.

With South’s 6th place finish, the only conference opponent the defeated was Henry by a 52-20 score.

The losses were to Southwest 37-36, Edison 46-25, Roosevelt 58-18, North 50-18 and Washburn 42-27.

The team defeated DeLaSalle in a non-conference match, 41-30.

After the regular season ended, Drew Gau and Kevin Mellen reached their goals of making it to the State Individual Tournament.  Gau finished in 4th place and Mellen finished in 6th place in their respective weight classes.

Coach Mark Sanders wanted his wrestlers to be proud of themselves.  “It takes a lot of courage to get up there and perform.  You have no teammates to hide behind.  All of your weaknesses are exposed.  Wrestling is an individual sport.  You are responsible for your mental technique and you physical strength.”

Responsibility was also important to the team.  A wrestler was responsible for his or her own fitness, skill and weight.  Gaining or losing weight and eating right is a part of wrestling.  With 13 weight classes, everyone was able to compete.

Junior Stuart Ralston said, “I like sweating to lose weight and Gau is definitely a wrestling god!”