The youth movement continues for Laramie Plainsmen wrestling, as they begin a new season this weekend in Evanston.

The Plainsmen struggled in the 2019-20 season with injuries, low numbers, and more. It played out at the end of the season, where LHS finished last at the 4A West regional wrestling championships and the state wrestling championships. Laramie also lost their only returning state placer, in senior Isaac Sell, who was third at 160 pounds last season, to an injury late in the football season. He won’t be able to wrestle at all this year.

Now in his fourth season, head coach Stuart Brinkman knew some tough times would be coming when he took the job four years ago. He knew the numbers weren’t where they needed to be, but he believes they’re starting to turn the corner.

“Our sophomore and juniors, they really trained hard in the off-season, particularly in the weight room, as we couldn’t wrestle (due to COVID). We have a group of freshmen that are pretty tough. A lot of them have been wrestling their whole life, so I’m kind of excited to see what they can do.”

Brinkman even likes the numbers at seventh and eighth grade, which he thought finished second at their middle school regional.

“We definitely have some kids coming up.”

He feels it brings some more excitement to the wrestling room and the kids have a little more ‘pep in their step.’

As for this season, Brinkman says they’ve been a lot more aggressive in teaching moves early on.

“I feel like in the last couple of years we weren’t dominant on top, so we’ve been spending a lot of time on top. Hopefully, we can get more points, more pins, and put more points on the board.”

KOWB’s David Settle chatted with senior Gavin Kopp and junior Ben Ruckman to get a sense of what Laramie High School wrestling is looking like this season.

While Settle spoke to two upperclassmen, over half the team on this year's roster is underclassmen, according to Brinkman.

As for the opening weekend of duals in Evanston, Brinkman isn’t quite sure what to expect because they are without several wrestlers this weekend due to various circumstances, including COVID quarantine.

“It’s going to be kind of tough since we threw six freshmen in our varsity lineup since we’re missing eight varsity guys from last year. I just want to see our guys compete. Go out there, try as hard as they can, and leave everything on the mat.”

The Plainsmen will be on the road for more duals next week in Rawlins. They will be at Cheyenne South for duals just after the first of the year. Laramie’s first home match will be against Wheatland on Jan. 7, 2021. They also wrestle Natrona County at home in late January.

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