By Linda Dillman
Canal Winchester High School wrestlers are headed to district competition with nearly twice as many team members qualifying this year compared to last season.
District qualifiers include Micah Dollery, Malik Dollery, Bobby Davies, Chance Newsome, Carter Washington,and Eli Cassady.
“Last season we were 3-4 in the Ohio Capital Conference and finished fifth,” said Coach Shawn Cassady, who is a sixth grade science teacher and middle school football coach. “We were a win better this year. Last year we had three district qualifiers (Bobby Davies, Micah Dollery and Mason Fry), one district alternate (Eli Cassady) and another sectional placer (Jack Howard). This year we doubled all of those categories. District qualifiers went from three to six. District alternates went from one to two and sectional placers went from five to 10.”
All varsity wrestlers go to the sectional tournament with the top four at sectionals qualifying for the district tournament. The fifth place finisher is a district alternate if a team wrestler from their weight class is unable to compete.
“I really think that all of our wrestlers have made vast improvements over the past season or even two,” said Cassady. “Micah Dollery has really improved with his off season work ethic. His brother, Malik, began to follow in those footsteps last year and has really taken a lot of people by surprise. Eli Cassady has been a whole new wrestler from the start of this season until the end. Carter Washington and Jaiden Gunderson, two of our seniors this year, were wrestling their best at the end of the season and Chance Newsome just continues to get better and better.”
Cassady lauded Bobbie Davies, Eli Cassady, and Jack Howard for their leadership skills both on and off the mat. He said not only do they perform well in the classroom, younger kids on the team look up to them, listen to them and respect them.
“Jack has been out with a concussion for a bit now, but Bobby and Eli have stepped up and not missed a beat while their fellow captain is out,” said Cassady. “I can always count on Bobby to have some word of advice for everyone. Eli never misses practice and always stays afterwards to get pull ups and dips in before leaving. I fully expect our leaders next year to be Eli Cassady, Micah Dollery and Patrick Radanovich with Malik Dollery right there. These kids have been wrestling together for many years and will do a great job of working and getting the team ready for another year of improvement.”
Cassady had high praise for his assistant coaches, calling them a huge part of the program, not just at the high school level, but middle school as well. Assistant coaches are Ken Miller, Thomas Thornton and Joe Ramsey. Middle school coaches are Matt Kamer and Brian Daron.
“I couldn’t do it without them. They have built great relationships with these wrestlers and are a huge asset to me and this district,” said Cassady. “They are all instrumental to what we are doing because of the relationships they have built, the work that they do with them on the mat and the belief and love that they show these kids. They are my guys and I have every intention of bringing them back.”
Ensuring that the wrestling program continues to improve and makes strides to become OCC champs in the future, Cassady said he tells his wrestlers they are not the only ones who have things to work on or learn.
As head coach, Cassady said he needs to make sure he is open to new ideas, teach moves in different ways, and not be set in his “old man ways.”
The former Heidelberg University wrestler and graduate said he makes himself available for his athletes, keeps his door open, and offers his services year round.
“I collaborate with my coaches all the time and we make adjustments as needed,” said Cassady. “For example, the last couple of weeks Coach Daron has been running an optional practice for anyone on the team that is interested. I need to continue to push the boys and Razi (my one and only girl) because I see what they could be if they put some work in during the office season. There is all kind of talent in that room.”
This is fantastic! We look forward to next year and what this team can bring!