There is the success of the team as a whole and the success of the individual members of the team.
Any way you look at it, Creekview coach Wyatt Wilkie led his team to a successful season in 2012-13. The Grizzlies placed a program-best fourth in the Class AAAAA traditional state meet, finished in the top six in the state duals and went undefeated against county rivals.
Creekview also qualified 12 wrestlers for the sectional meet, and five went on to place at the Class AAAAA state meet. The team was also the runner-up in the Region 7AAAA duals and traditional meets.
For leading his team to a season unlike any other, Wilkie is the 2012-13 Cherokee Tribune Wrestling Coach of the Year.
While honored by the award, Wilkie said the athletes were the ones who did most of the work.
“We had good seniors leading the team,” he said. “We had quite a few guys return, even young guys had a couple of years of experience.”
Wilkie said several of his wrestlers compete year-round and attended national tournaments last summer. All of them work out in some way or another when it isn’t wrestling season. Several are involved in other sports, such as track, lacrosse or football, when it isn’t wrestling season.
This season, the Grizzlies had competition for several of roster spots. Wilkie said wrestle-offs were a weekly occurrence as each member of the team wanted to make the varsity lineup.
“There were a few weight classes that wrestled off ever week,” he said. “Sometimes, that final decision doesn’t get made until the last wrestle-off before region and state. When you are competing for a weight class, you don’t just want to be on the team. You want to be in the varsity lineup. You see who you have to beat and your outwork them. That is internal motivation there. If you don’t have the motivation already, that gives you the extra.”
Creekview sent more wrestlers to state this season than any year before, and placing five was a new record for the team as well. Both are things Wilkie said the Grizzlies take pride in.
“The guys that didn’t make it were bummed out they weren’t competing, but they were there to cheer on the guys that did,” he said. “It was a good team experience.”
Creekview will graduate six seniors, but of the five state-placers, three will return. Among the returning state-qualifiers will be Joseph Sorrentino, the state-runner up at 182-pounds, Hunter Smith, Ryan Camp and Christian Saragusa.
“We will be missing some good leadership, but at the same time, we have guys that can fill that role,” Wilkie said. “We will be in good shape.”
But with high school boys, a lot can change before next season — particularly with an unexpected growth spurt.
“Some coaches are real sticklers for guys holding weight all summer,” Wilkie said. “But I think they need to grow. Their bodies change. As long as they are staying involved and not sitting on their rear ends playing video games, I’m happy. When they come back in next season, they figure out where they need to be and we get back at it.”