Kodiak wrestling is entering a new era — or you could say its going back to its roots.
Longtime coach Pat Costello is beginning the 2010 campaign preaching the team concept.
This approach was a staple of Kodiak wrestling in the past, but because of the makeup of the team and the shortened season Costello has strayed away from it the past couple of years.
“We are trying to push the team concept,” he said. “They have to help each other to push themselves to get to the next level.
“The technique we are going to teach, but they have to be willing to push themselves and not let one of them fall to the wayside.”
In the first three weeks of practice he has already noticed a change in the attitude of wrestlers compared to last season.
“It’s been good because we have everybody,” Costello said. “It’s a bunch of veterans and they know we have a pretty good team. They are ready to work.
“If they move football and wrestling apart a month, attitude would be there every year. This is the attitude we used to have.”
Costello is also veering from his non-mandatory practice policy. The kids have to work harder with more grapplers in the mat room. The team’s roster peaked at 54 during the first week.
“If they can make a serious commitment to come to practice by the end of the year we are going to have a nice-looking club,” Costello said. “I am very excited about it.”
Kodiak returns 11 state qualifiers from last season who went a combined 17-22 at state. Seven won at least two matches, while Eddy Burris and Pearson Brodie earned state hardware with three wins.
Burris, a sophomore, placed second at 103 pounds, while Pearson, a senior, placed sixth at 140 pounds.
Burris is jumping to the 112-pound class this season.
“Eddy, being second in the state, should be a superstar if he adjusts to the weight class and really focuses,” Costello said.
Kodiak is also anchored by David Castonguay, Branden Canete, Rueben Ivanoff, Elisha Fields, Francis Llorente, Alex Lounsbury, Isaac Fields, Connor Murphy and Thomas Long. They all qualified for state last year.
“We got a lot of guys who are going to be tough to beat, but we are hoping a couple will rise up to the next level,” Costello said.
“We don’t have a sure six anywhere, but we are going to get a whole lot of sixes.”
Anthony Atonio was that wrestler last year who Costello could count on for a victory. He won the heavyweight state title with a 27-3 record.
“We don’t have a bona fide stud that is going to win every match,” he said.
Costello said this is the best opening-week lineup he has had in about five years and by the end of the year he sees Kodiak challenging Colony for second at the Northern Lights Conference Championships. Costello pegs Wasilla as the favorite and the state’s top team.
“When we have our full lineup it is going to be a dog fight between Colony and us,” Costello said. “I have enough faith in our team towards the end of the year we will be knocking on the door.”
Kodiak begins the season today and Friday with team duals at Nikiski. Saturday is the Nikiski Duals.
The Robin Hervey Tournament is Nov. 6-7 — the Bears’ only home meet of the season. Wasilla, Houston and Barrow are slated for the tournament.
Overall, Costello is pleased with how the team looks so far.
“Last year was our down year,” he said. “We knew it was going to be down, but we are on our way up. I think this year is going to be a good year.”
Mirror Writer Derek Clarkston can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oct. 14-16 — at Nikiski; Oct. 22-23 —Lancer Smith Tournament at Palmer; Oct. 29-30 — North/South Duals at Anchorage; Nov. 6-7 — Robin Hervey Tournament at Kodiak; Nov. 12-13 — John Tobin Invitational at North Pole; Nov. 19-20 — at Barrow; Dec. 4-5 — Northern Lights Conference Championships; Dec. 11-12 — State Championships.