BEAVERTON – Last year’s team will be a tough act to follow. The 2018/19 Beavers were Jack Pine Conference Champions and had four wrestlers qualify for the state tournament. All four, Kyle Cassiday 2nd, Jack Owens 3rd, Jacob Cassiday 5th and Brandon Shearer 8th medaled in the tournament. Of that group only Jacob Cassiday returns.
That doesn’t mean that the Beavers are without talent though. Besides Cassiday, Jake Fischer, Aaron Wentworth, Hunter Schafer, and Ruben Adams return. Adams and Cassiday were Jack Pine Champions last year Schafer was honorable mention. Coach Bryan Cassiday mentioned that with the losses due to graduation the team is transitioning from a heavy weight team to the lighter weight classes.
Cassiday, Fischer, and Schafer will be captains this year. With that honor comes a lot of responsibility. “We don’t force kids into weights that they don’t want to compete at,” said Cassiday. “They don’t have fun and don’t come back the next year.” That’s where the captains come in. Each wrestler lists their desired weight class and the captains help get them in the right weight class and get them to commit.
By not getting heavily involved in weight decisions Cassiday says he can focus on getting the kids “charged up and emotionally ready for the season.” This year’s captains seem well suited for the responsibility. Jacob Cassiday was one of the captains for the Beaverton Football Team. After spending a lot of time working out over the summer and putting weight on for football he now has to determine what his most athletic weight will be. Fischer had a “good football season and is a dedicated athlete,” said Cassiday, and Schafer has “great physical ability, and spent a lot of time working out over the summer. We expect big things out of him.”
Success has some perks. Former wrestlers and their friends have started to come back and help. Eric and Kyle Cassiday are able to attend practice several times a week. This allows the coaches to work with smaller groups and makes practices more efficient. “Former athletes have a lot of wisdom and are really good at talking to kids and getting them mentally on the right path,” added Cassiday.
This is a critical year for the Beavers. They currently have 14 wrestlers out for 14 spots. When the program started 6 years ago they foresaw this possible gap and realized that this period would be crucial to the overall health of the program. The Beaverton Youth Wrestling Program is loaded with young wrestlers, but most are still at least two years away from high school. “Right now we have great team leadership, we have a group of hard working kids, said Cassiday. “We don’t have high number but everybody here wants to get better. With that combination by the end of the year we will continue to progress and be competitive.“
The Beavers open their season Friday at 6:30 p.m. They will be hosting a preseason scrimmage at the elementary school before they travel to Gladwin for the first Jack Pine Quad of the year on Wednesday Dec. 11 at 6 p.m.