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Tiger wrestlers have learning year

The Morris Area/Hancock wrestling team recently completed a "learning year" for the young team with a new coach.

"It was definitely a learning year for everyone," coach Shane Tappe said. "Including myself."

Along the way the wrestlers showed much improvement, winning the first round of the section team tournament.

"The kids showed improvement from the first day to the last," Tappe said. "If we can pick up where we left off, some great things can happen."

With only three seniors on the team, and Travis Moser being unable to wrestle for the entire season, the core group of wrestlers will return next year.

Captain Travis Thooft will be graduating this spring.

"Travis is going to be a tough one to lose," said Tappe. "He's not flamboyant when he wins, nor is he a sore loser.

"He's a class act."

Senior Justin Johnston tried wrestling for the first time this year.

"I think he surprised a lot of people, including myself," said Tappe. "That's a credit to him and the hard work he put in."

Johnston picked up some big wins for the Tigers. Filling the heavyweight class gave the team a chance to compete.

"He was a big asset to the team," Tappe said. "No matter what, you knew he'd give it his best."

Being short a few wrestlers, the team gave up 18 points every match. Tappe said the Tigers had to get bonus points where they could and stay off their backs.

Tappe hopes to pick up a few more members for next season.

"It would be nice to be at 30 or above," he said.

Tappe said he has appreciated the support from the community and the student body.

"As a kid, it means the world to see the stands full," he said. "Hopefully, we'll fill the stands for every home match next season."