After taking a water break, while their coach was off to the side taking care of some other business, the LaGrange High wrestlers hit the mat for some impromptu training.
While a couple of wrestlers grappled, their teammates stood around yelling their encouragement.
At the same time, a few other wrestlers came up to LaGrange head coach Scooter Weathers asking questions about various techniques.
Weathers, the team’s veteran coach and a former Granger wrestler himself, said that’s pretty typical.
He said the 40-plus wrestlers who come to practice every day have a passion for the sport, and they’re hungry for knowledge.
“They work hard,” Weathers said. “They don’t mind coming in here, drilling on their own. They want to get better.”
The Grangers have been practicing for close to a month now in preparation for a season that kicks off today with the Granger Duals, a six-team event that’ll be held in the LaGrange High gym.
From there, the Grangers will have a number of matches in December, including the Granger Invitational later in the month.
In January, the area and state duals will be held, to be followed a short time later by the traditional area tournament and the traditional state tournament.
LaGrange heads into a new season having to replace nine seniors, most of whom were regular members of the starting lineup.
Now it’s time for a new batch of wrestlers to show what they can do, and Weathers said they are ready.
“They’re getting hungry, they’re getting excited,” Weathers said. “Now we’ll start wrestling and see how things go.”
It’s not like the cupboard is bare.
Weathers has built a program that, despite the personnel losses suffered from year to year, just keeps on motoring.
Because of the high number of wrestlers in the program, there’s always plenty of competition in practice, and when a wrestler gets his chance, he’s usually ready for it.
A lot of the younger wrestlers got a chance to get some mat time during a junior-varsity tournament hosted by LaGrange two weeks ago.
LaGrange won that tournament, and 10 Grangers finished fourth or higher.
“A bunch of them placed, a bunch of them were within a match of placing,” Weathers said. “That was really good.”
Weathers figures the more mat time the wrestlers get, the better they’ll be.
“We have a lot of freshmen, a lot of young ones,” Weathers said. “We have a lot of numbers. That’s a good thing. And they’re going to get tons of matches.”
Among the wrestlers expected to lead the way this season are Devonta Williams, Times Morgan, Dexter Jones, Garrett Godby, Michael Myers, Qua Tucker, Logan Pitts, and Turner Duke, brother of former Granger great Braden Duke.
Among those wrestlers, Williams, Godby and Tucker all qualified for state last season.
Weathers said one aspect of the program that has greatly improved the past two seasons is the practice facility.
Since last season, LaGrange has been practicing in the Cannon Street Elementary School gym.
Before, the team was practicing in a trailer on the LaGrange High campus, and Weathers said that was far from ideal.
“We were in a double-wide trailer. I used to put 48 guys in there,” Weathers said. “It’d be like 16 gold fish in a measuring cup.”
The current facility, Weathers said, has been “really, really awesome.”