Prep Winter Sports Preview
JOHN DAY - With a total of 20 athletes out for the team, second-year head wrestling coach Dave Naibert anticipates the 2002-2003 season will be a successful one for the Grant Union program.
The Prospectors have six returning lettermen along with eight sophomores and six freshmen listed on the roster, so the future for Grant Union is also looking bright.
"I have a good bunch of kids out for the team this season," Naibert said. "Everyone of them is enthusiastic and I have been getting some good leadership from our senior veterans, Nick Stiner and Justin Cernazanu."
Last season, Stiner finished with a winning record during the season, and earned a fifth-place finish at the Greater Oregon League district tournament.
With the Prospectors competing in the Class 2A Wapiti League this season, Naibert said he expected Stiner and some of his other competitors to meet with a lot of success.
"The nice thing for us this season is that our younger kids are not going to get beat up week after week going up against experienced wrestlers from 3A schools," Naibert said. "By the time the district tournament rolls around this year we will be up against teams who will be using freshmen and sophomores in a lot of weight divisions, instead of us having to go up against wrestlers with two or three years of experience, and we should be very competitive."
Other returning letterman in addition to Cernazanu at 160 pounds include sophomore Josh Arnall who finished 25-5 overall last season and went to the state tournament at 119 pounds but will be competing at 130 pounds this year, and sophomores Dustin Heidemann (140), Sterling Horn, who had a winning record in the 135-pound weight class last season, and Sam Stinnett at 171 pounds.
New to the team this year is senior Zeke Martin (145), sophomore Toby Thomas (125) and freshmen Wayne Witty, Justin Bartlett, Rustin McLeod and D.J. Lippert.
"All of these kids have been looking good in practice, but we will know a lot more after our first matches of the season," Naibert commented.
Grant Union opened the season on Saturday, Dec. 6, at the Kickoff Tournament in Enterprise and will compete in the Nyssa Tournament on Saturday, Dec. 14.
"Both of those tournaments will have a lot of good wrestlers entered in them," Naibert said. "The Nyssa Tournament will have some good wrestlers coming over from Idaho as well, and we will see how we stand up against them."