OKEECHOBEE — The Brahmans return an experienced team to the wrestling mats this year and have high hopes of having one or more state qualifiers.
It is the 20th anniversary at OHS for wrestling coach Bruce Jahner. He said every year is special.
“Lot of good memories, lot of kids going through the program, now we see the children of my older wrestlers coming in, and a lot of little kids in the wrestling club,” he said.
Jahner puts the wrestlers through some tough practices and conditioning.
They work a lot on technique and wrestling holds and then spend time in conditioning, running outside, lifting weights, and various calisthenics.
Last year three wrestlers came within one match of states. Jahner is confident he’ll see some kids make the jump this year.
“Most of the kids will be juniors this year and they have three years of experience so they are starting to get a little seasoned,” he explained. “We have a good shot at states this year if we keep our heads. Our lineup is pretty set.”
The Brahmans were district runners up to Jensen Beach. The regional is always a roll of the dice as a lot of it depends upon the bracket and who gets the breaks.
The team will also have more home matches this year which begins with a home date on Nov. 30 against St. Lucie West Centennial.
The Brahmans will also host a junior varsity tournament on Dec. 17.
The team lost three seniors but was able to replace them in the lineup with experienced wrestlers.
Top returners for the Brahmans include district champion at 138 pounds Drayton Billie, Kallen Pineiro, Jarrett Mills, Austin Scee and Lamar Williams.
Pineiro won the rookie of the year award as a freshman and returned to win the team MVP last year. He gained 12 pounds over the summer and will compete at 144 pounds. He said he is stronger this year and shouldn’t get over powered as much.
“I wrestled all summer long and I never stopped. I gained weight and strength and I think I’ll do a lot better this year,” he said.
Pineiro said he is also stronger mentally which pays off in long, grueling matches at districts and regional.
“I’m well rounded at everything this year. I’ve been working on my base, my stance and working to get off the bottom better,” he said.
Billie, a senior, was district champion last year at 138 pounds. He plans to stick at that weight this year. He said the district championship was a great memory for him but now he wants to build upon that.
“I think I could have gone to state last year. I hope to make the state tournament. I also want to work with the younger kids and help them to catch up. I think they have talent and they are aggressive,” he added.
Billie plans to attend Universal Technical Institute (UTI) and become a mechanic.
Scee, pronounced ‘see’, will move up six pounds to 132 pounds this year. He said he has stuck with wrestling and worked hard to improve. He predicted that he and several teammates will qualify for state this year.
“I try as hard as I can to do better. I want to help other kids on the team get better. My goal was to be determined to keep wrestling, try the best that I can, and I think I’m ready,” he said.
Scee said if he improves his conditioning and cardio, he can reach his goals this season.
“You can’t be gasping for air in the middle of the match. If I’m in better shape, I can keep going,” he added.
Charles M. Murphy is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News