SIERRA VISTA — After sending eight wrestlers to state last year, the Buena Colts are ready for their encore act.
Buena opens its season on Dec 1 when the Colts travel to Ironwood Ridge High School for a triangular match which will also include Canyon Del Oro and Sahuarita.
“This year we started our offseason conditioning program on June 1 and we focused heavily on techniques and conditioning,” Buena’s wrestling coach Mark Dannels, who is also Cochise County’s Sheriff, said. “We started preseason back in September to get the kids rolling on the mat and we had a handful come out so it was very productive.”
Fortunately for the Colts, the wrestling team only lost one wrestler to graduation in Caleb Sieler. “I am a competitor so I always push the expectations and I am expecting a good season this year,” Dannels stated. “It looks like we will have around 50-60 boys along with our girl program so it will be a lot of work but the reward of keeping our kids involved in a structured sport is so beneficial. I think the wrestlers walk away with a positive experience both on and off the mat and we have a lot of returners that come back because we all learn something new every season.”
Sectional runner ups who are returning this year include Anthony Trujillo at 113 pounds, Rylkee Kynaston at 120, and Toafia Fruean at 285.
“These three will lead the charge along with some seniors that did not wrestle last year,” the coach said. “I anticipate that 10 seniors will wrestle on varsity this season.”
Though Sheriff Dannels has worked in law enforcement for 37 years, COVID-19 is one of the few things he has not seen.
“We deal with the unexpected all the time and COVID-19 was another detour that might be more extreme than most situations,” he commented. “The bottom line is we got through it and had a successful season last year so there is a light at the end of the tunnel and we will push forward.”
Sieler, Buena’s only senior, placed third at 132 at sectionals last season, along with Skylar Kline at 160. Sophomore Aysha General became the first Buena High School female Colt wrestler to medal at the state wrestling championships coming in second place in her 120-pound weight class.
“She is a returning state-runner up and obviously one to watch,” Dannels stated. “I definitely think she can contend for a state championship this season.”
After starting with only four girl wrestlers during the program’s inception, Buena has nine girls coming out this season.
“We have doubled our wrestlers in three years and though the numbers are small, it is a step in the right direction,” Dannels said. “A decade ago we had only a dozen or so boys and now we sit at around 60 so once again we are pushing the program forward and I like that we are growing.”
The Colts will compete in another multi-meet Dec. 8 at Catalina Foothills before participating Dec. 10-11 at the 42nd Tim Brown Wrestling Invitational which takes place at Douglas High School. Buena’s home opener, unfortunately, won’t be until after the first of the year, when the Colts host Desert View and Rio Rico in a triangular match on Jan. 5.