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Grappling with numbers

Emma Garrard/Sierra SunTruckee High junior Robert Raber (white shirt) wrestles Carlos Ramirez, an eighth-grader at Alder Creek Middle School, during practice in Truckee's cafeteria. Raber is one of the Wolverines' top wrestlers.
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Truckee High wrestling coach Ron Curtis has seen this before.

What begins as a plump roster mixed with wrestling stalwarts and eager newbies to the sport dwindles to few by season’s end, often in half that time. Arduous practice time weeds them out, mostly the newcomers, while the two-week holiday break that splits the season is known to decimate numbers.

This year is no different.



What began as a 27-man roster has shrunk to 15 at the midway point, and Curtis expects more to exit prematurely.

“I’m anticipating two or three more disappearing,” said Curtis, a longtime coach of Truckee wrestling. “Because of the holiday it king of creates two seasons. A lot of kids come out before the holiday and find out how tough it is. Then once they get used to the time, off they don’t want to work again.”



Nevertheless, decisive team leaders Bobby Waters and Robert Raber, both third-year juniors, aren’t going to let the perennial exodus drag down their seasons ” nor are any of the other Wolverines who choose to finish what they started.

“I want to win state this year,” said Raber, who is off to a 13-4 start wrestling in the 152- to 160-pound weight class. “Last year I didn’t make it. I did as a freshman, but I didn’t place.”

The same mission applies for Waters, who, at 12-2 so far this season, wrestled his way into the state tournament as a freshman and sophomore but did not place. Competing this year in the 145-152 weight class ” and fresh off a first-place showing in the Lovelock Tournament on Dec. 22 ” Waters has as good a chance as anyone to represent the Wolverines at State on Feb. 8-9.

“He’s probably the most experienced wrestler on the team as far as mat time,” Curtis said of Waters. “He’s a very good leg rider, and that’s made him a more premier wrestler. He’s a very good mat wrestler.”

Raber’s main strength, besides his athleticism, may be his determination, the coach said.

“He’s very strong on his feet, and he never gives up. A lot of times he might be behind in a match, but then he comes back and pins his opponent,” Curtis said.

Other top wrestlers for the Wolverines include junior Dillon Crosby and sophomore Kyle Mullen, as well as up-and-coming sophomores Scott Koper and Ricky Cooper, Curtis said, adding that he expects a strong crop of freshman from the Alder Creek Middle School feeder program to bolster the roster next season.

For now, however, the Wolverines lack depth, with no seniors on the squad. And while they have enough wrestlers between JV and varsity cover all but three weight classes, Curtis said the Wolverines don’t expect to win many tournaments with their underclassmen having to square off against older, more experienced competition ” not to mention forfeiting those three classes.

“We don’t have a lot of depth, so we’re kind of in the building stage right now,” the coach said.

Raber, sucking wind after wrestling a teammate in practice late last week, voiced optimism about the team and its future.

“I’d say we’re pretty good. We’re pretty young, though,” Raber said. “I think next year and the year after that we should be pretty good.”

Truckee hosts a tournament with Incline, Yerington and Dayton today (Wednesday) in the old gym starting at 4 p.m. The Wolverines then travel to Burney Falls (Calif.) for the Burney Rotary.


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