ELGIN – A solid core of returning wrestlers should put Elgin into state title contention if the grapplers stay healthy and get the needed experience during the regular season.
Leading the returners is sophomore Hunter Jackson, who finished third in Class 5A last season at the 106-pound weight class. Other returning state qualifiers are junior Gabe Dittmeyer at 160 pounds, junior Jack Anglley at 152 pounds, and sophomore Colyn Donnelly at 170 pounds.
Elgin finished won the district title last season and then finished 6th at the state meet.
“I think being in 5A, if we can put kids in the right spot and they stay healthy we can compete for a state championship,” Elgin head coach Cody Rowell said. “We’re not just filling spots with kids. We have lots of experience at almost every weight. There’s a culture we’re trying to build around Elgin and most of these kids have wrestled since they were in diapers. Expectations have been bred into them at a young age.”
Seniors Nino Vivic (120 pounds) and Austin Elam (145 pounds) and freshman Ritson Meyer (190 pounds) are expected to contribute heavily to the Elgin effort.
Elgin started its season Thursday, Dec. 1 against Comanche which is coached by Rowell’s younger brother Casy Rowell. The two coaches and their families shared Thanksgiving dinner together and wrestling was an obvious topic of discussion during the family outing.
“Oh yeah, we definitely talked wrestling. As teams, we practice together and train together since we’re in different classes,” Cody Rowell said.
So far, the two brothers have competed against each other twice as head coaches with Casy and his Comanche team winning the initial encounter while Cody and the Owls were victorious last season.
Elgin will compete in the Blanchard Tournament Dec. 2-3 and then host Weatherford in a dual Tuesday, Dec. 6. The Owls hit the road Dec. 13 for a dual against Santa Fe South in Oklahoma City.
All-American wrestler Symphony Veloz will lead the charge for the Lady Owls’ wrestling squad this year. Veloz, a junior won the state championship at 165 pounds last season with a 1-0 decision over Owasso’s Sidney Milligan in the finals. Veloz is listed No. 17 nationally in the 180-pound class by U.S. Wrestling.
Veloz competed during July in the 2022 USA Wrestling 16U Women’s Freestyle National Championships where she finished sixth in the 180-pound weight class.
Joining Veloz is senior Chellene Brown (145 pounds) and senior Carli Watson (140 pounds). Both placed fourth at the state tournament last season.
“Girls wrestling is one of the fastest growing sports in Elgin,” Rowell said. “If our girls go in and win (individual) state titles, we could contend as a team.”
In addition, Elgin will welcome Utah move-in Dominik Benedetto at 150 pounds.
“We have high expectations for her. She can definitely help us this season,” Rowell said.
Elgin will start the season by hosting Comanche in a Dec. 1 dual followed by the Blanchard Tournament Dec. 2-3. The Lady Owls will host Weatherford in a dual Tuesday, Dec. 6 followed by the Cache Girls Tournament Friday, Dec. 9.