Scott West has had five consecutive trips to state. Some teams might be content with that record, but not the Panthers’ wrestling team or their coach Jerold Stauffacher. They’ve found that a combination of hard work and showing up every day leads to results, and they don’t plan to quit any time soon.
Last year the team placed third in the state after losing to Fairmont. This year they are going to keep pushing themselves, hoping that they’ll be able to go even farther.
“We still haven’t reached our ultimate goal of the state title,” said Stauffacher.
Stauffacher and his team know what they need to do to reach that goal, and they aren’t planning on shaking things up for the sake of change. A state title has been out of reach in the past, but the Panthers are confident they can get there.
“We’re going to stay the status quo. The program has been successful, and we’re going to continue practicing and live wrestling. There isn’t a magic pill,” he said.
Leading the way will be the team’s two captains, Tyler Shackle and Stauffacher’s son, Justin Stauffacher. The two seniors have proven themselves to be dedicated wrestlers who are committed to making it to each practice and working hard.
According to Stauffacher, Tyler is a “hard-nosed kid” that is smart and strategic in his matches. Justin is relentless. According to his father, he keeps pushing himself, even if he isn’t feeling 100 percent.
“He’s got to break something before he sits out, and sometimes even then he won’t sit out,” said Stauffacher.
The two captains aren’t the only ones leading the team by example. Stauffacher himself runs with the boys every morning. He might not be as quick as the teenagers, but he’s there to prove to them that you can push your body if you set your mind to it.
“If I can do it, [they] can do it. That’s one of the biggest things I try to stress with the kids - mental toughness. Your body will do more when the mind wants it to,” he said.
Stauffacher anticipates that the team will face two main challenges this year. The first is their weight. They have a lot of players that are in a similar weight class, and the team will need to find a way to spread themselves out in the weight classes. The other challenge is building a cohesive team from two schools that are rivals in other sports. Even though Scott West has been around for over 25 years, it can still be a challenge when the boys are training and wrestling together.
“Being a co-op with Jordan, we have to blend. Every day we’re making sure it’s not just one school, that it’s Scott West. It’s a challenge melding two schools together,” he said.
In spite of that, Stauffacher ultimately sees the blended team as an asset, both on the mat and off. He’s found that the boys see themselves as one team and even hang out together outside of practice.
“They’ve only known Scott West. Even though they’re from their individual towns, they’ve only known the Scott West program,” he said.
The team’s cohesiveness will be put to the test during their first match on Thursday, Nov. 29, when they face off against New Prague. The junior varsity will start the match at 6 p.m. at Belle Plaine High School and varsity will follow.
Thur., Nov. 29: Home vs. New Prague, at Belle Plaine High School
Fri., Nov. 30: Invitational at Independence, Iowa
Sat., Dec. 1: Invitational at Independence, Iowa
Fri., Dec. 7: Home vs. Forest Lake, at Jordan High School, at 7:00 p.m.
Fri., Dec. 14: Invitational at Rochester Comm. & Tech. College
Sat., Dec. 15: Invitational at Rochester Comm. & Tech. College
Thur., Dec. 20: Triangular at Dassel-Cokato, at 6:15 p.m.
Fri., Dec. 21: Home vs. Albert Lea, at Belle Plaine High School, at 7:00 p.m.
Fri., Dec. 28: Invitational at the Fargo Dome
Sat., Dec. 29: Invitational at the Fargo Dome
Sat., Jan. 5: Away vs. Farmington
Thur., Jan. 10: Away vs. St. Michael-Albertville
Sat., Jan. 12: Away at River Valley, WI
Thur., Jan. 17: Away vs. Northfield
Sat., Jan. 19: Away vs. Eastview
Sat., Jan. 26: Conference Tournament at Sibley East, at 9:00 a.m.
Thur., Jan. 31: Away vs. Waverly-Shell Rock at Augsburg College, at 5:30 p.m.
Fri., Feb. 1: Home vs. Prior Lake at Jordan Middle School, at 7:30 p.m.
Fri., Feb. 8: Triangular at Maple Lake, at 5:00 p.m.