Preview: Wrestlers Enter Season with High Standards and Higher Expectations


Mr. Bonner, one of the wrestling coaches, discusses tactics and performance with Ceasar Sanchez (10).

Mo Heiniger, Reporter

After graduating five seniors in May of 2016, this transition year holds high expectations for the wrestling team. Leadership changes have been made over the past year. Paul Bonner transitioned into the head coach position and two other coaches have been helping out this year. In response to this, returning wrestler Ceasar Sanchez (10), said, “With Bonner, it is definitely a very similar coaching style [to last year]. It’s still a Manitou coaching style’ however, it has been changed a good amounted I think that it is definitely a good change coming about. I think that our practices have been very intense. They’ve been very beneficial and I think we’re going to be ready when we do come into competition…” The team’s only senior, Julian Sanchez (12), said, “It’s definitely a little different without Borkowski. Bonner is a great coach, so is Brady and Coach Dougherty. They’re all real good guys. They’re still learning a lot. I just have to humble myself and let them do their jobs.” This is Bonner’s twenty-first year coaching for a wrestling program and his fourth year coaching for the Mustangs. Starting out as Manitou’s head wrestling coach, Bonner has district experience in both assisting in leading and directly leading a wrestling program. The other coaches, Kevin Dougherty and Brady Quarry, have extensive experience with high school athletics, college athletics, and coaching. Dougherty had experience coaching Bonner in Alaska before retirement brought him to Colorado and led him to Manitou’s wrestling program. As for Quarry (Coach Quarry’s eldest son), he served in the army and played college football before coming to Manitou Springs High School as a football, baseball and, most recently, wrestling coach.

Under this new leadership, this team of seven has been able to bond and develop together. Camps this summer allowed for certain members of the team to get even closer to each other before preseason had even commenced. Involvement in outside-of-school wrestling camps, clubs and college scouting excursions allowed for Manitou wrestlers like Ceasar Sanchez (10) and Julian Sanchez to come into this season with confidence and ability. With preseason workouts and practices having begun before Thanksgiving break, the whole team is entering the season having had time to get in shape, grow and learn tactics. When asked about the new team dynamic, Ceasar said, “We’re working a lot more technique stuff [this year]. It’s a more intense environment, I would say, but overall not too big of a change. It is a positive change though, nonetheless. I’m looking forward to seeing how we are going to do as a team.”

As of right now, the team is made up of two freshmen, two sophomores, two juniors and a senior, but that is very likely to change. As the only senior, Julian is a captain and mentor for this years’ team. When asked to reflect on this position, Julian said, “[This season] should be interesting… It’s definitely new. I’m real excited for it. I have a lot of big goals, but I’m real optimistic looking toward the future.” Returning wrestlers make up a good portion of the team, and they are also expected to step up as leaders this season due to their levels of understanding. Noah Sobeck (11) said, “We had some really amazing freshmen last year and they have come back as even better sophomores this year and that is really good to see. Ceasar Sanchez and Byrd McCarley, they’re both returning really strong, I think. As well as our juniors. Me and Nicholas have been just killing it for a little while. I think that we both are really excited to get into this year. That being said, we don’t quite have the experience that our senior has but I think that it will turn out well… I think we’ll have to [step up].” Julian also spoke about this by saying, “Nick and Noah are both real solid guys. They should be just fine. I’d rather have the group we have now that’s real small and dedicated than having a massive group.” Freshmen Hunter Gilpin and Kyle King are new to the team this year and they make up the JV roster. When asked about the team dynamic and his position in the group, Gilpin said, “[The team] kind of relies on me to do my job and actually get better so whenever Julian leaves, I can takeover his position. Especially since I’m the first heavyweight match of the night, I kind of have to set the tone for everybody, so it’s a little bit different than middle school.” King had similar reflections of the team dynamic when he said, “I can learn from [returners] and [practices] help out… I learned that there is more of a mental state where I have to get better.”

Most sports teams tend to have goals for their season before it even begins and wrestling is no different. Each individual has their own aspirations that go along with the team’s collective dreams. Julian’s personal goals are, “to make it back to the state tournament, to be metro champion, to be regional champion, to wrestle at leagues this year… and to do good at state.” A knee injury made Julian unable to compete at the competition last year, but he foresees no problem with that injury going forward. As for his team goals, he longs to have the freshmen keep learning and have the sophomores and juniors continue to succeed. As for his goals for the team, Bonner said, “I think as far as the program goes, it should be just a yearly expectation to have kids qualify for state and to have placers. That needs to be just a mainstay of wrestling here at Manitou.”Going into the season, the team holds their standards high and their goals above all else.