The De Soto wrestling team, which includes young grapplers, is being led by a new coach — Chad Johnson.
Johnson said he and the team have their sights set on a trip to the state tournament.
“The goal is always Madison, that never changes,” he said. “We want to compete in every match. Contest every point and wrestle hard for six minutes. Good things come to those who work hard for them.
The coach said the 2017-18 season “will be a steep learning curve for our very young team.”
“With a brand new coaching staff and the willingness to train and compete hard, I see a great chance of some young guys having success early in their young careers,” Johnson said.
The Pirates lost 2017 sectional qualifiers Brandon Parr and Logan Scoville to graduation.
What does the first-year coach see as De Soto’s strengths this season?
“Young talent that is willing to work hard and start from the basics and a dedicated coaching staff that is invested in the betterment of this program,” he said.
Johnson said the season’s biggest challenge is the lack of numbers to field a full lineup.
“The program is in a rebuilding phase after and couple of tough years numbers wise,” he said. “It will be crucial to retain all the kids from this year to continue to build numbers for years to come.”
Johnson said Ithaca/Weston and North Crawford are the top contenders in the Ridge and Valley Conference.
“De Soto will be young and more than likely rough at the start,” he said. “Depending on how fast these young wrestlers can mature and progress through the season, I believe we will have some very nice results at the end of the season.”
The team’s assistant coaches are Rance Nofsinger and Frank Ames.
De Soto opened its season in Monona, Iowa, Nov. 30.