The last two seasons have been very successful by any measure for the Barton wrestling team. They have been exceptionally successful when you take into consideration it is the first two seasons as well.
Cougar wrestling enters year three as a program, looking to continue the reputation it has created for itself.
But getting thing where he wants them isn’t something Coach Mike Bammes has achieved just yet.
“I don’t know if you will ever get the program where you want it,” Coach Bammes said. “We have started a tradition here and we just want to keep it going. But it is something new all the time. You learn year in and year out.”
Year three starts in Oklahoma City Sunday as the Cougars take part in the Oklahoma City Open. That is the first of five meets before the Christmas Break.
The goals haven’t changed much for Barton, which returns a handful of wrestlers.
“Just like the last two years, we want to be conference champions by having the highest finish in the region,” Coach Bammes said. “We want to stay high in the Kansas Cup and we want to win more duals than we lose.”
A big help to the Cougars this year is the addition of assistant coach Colby Crank. Crank, a native of Hutchinson, was an assistant at Baker last season. That is the school he helped to its highest finish ever his senior season on his way to an NAIA National Championship individually.
He was a 4-time NAIA All-American. The first three came at Bethany College and the final year at Baker.
“He has been a tremendous asset in the practice room,” Coach Bammes said. “Things have been going really well there.”
Three sophomores are back from last season and one from the previous season.
Kade Sander sat out last season but with the signing of his brother Keaton to wrestling this year, the Great Bend native is back to team up with his brother.
“That’s pretty cool,” Coach Bammes said of getting to wrestle on the same team as brothers. “You see that at high school a lot, but you don’t see it at the collegiate level much.”
Sander was just one match short of All-American honors two years ago the NJCAA National Meet. He will wrestle at 157 this year with his brother Keaton wrestling at 141.
Also back just one match short of All-American honors last year will be Brix Brickey at 285 and David Kelly at 174.
“I look for Ethan (Dean), Dave, Kade and Brix to really lead us as sophomores,” Coach Bammes said. “I’m looking for Ethan to step it up a little more than last year and the other three were just one win from being an All-American.”
Some freshman Coach Bammes is looking to contribute, in addition to Keaton Sanders, will be Gage Gomez and Gage McBride.
Both Gomez and McBride come to Barton from Oklahoma. Gomez will wrestle at 133 and McBride at 165.
Barton is at least two deep at every weight and Bammes looks to use that depth as the season wears on.
“Overall our goal is just to win duals and qualify for the National Tournament,” Coach Bammes said. “We want to work to compete to get better and to put some All American on the stands.”