Pinning down that winning form |

Pinning down that winning form

Photo by Ryan Salm/Sierra SunTruckee wrestler Tim Curtis (red sweatshirt) performs a move on teammate Robert Raber at practice Wednesday in the team's makeshift wrestling room " the cafeteria.

Last year the Truckee High wrestling team rallied around two-time state champion Buck Claesson, a senior who helped conduct practices while compiling a near flawless 44-1 record.

This year, finding as obvious a team strength is not so easy.

“I’ve gotta’ dig for one,” head wrestling coach Ron Curtis said when asked to try. “We’re not a real strong team. We’re less of a team than last year, but the kids could change my mind.”

Curtis’ skepticism is also due in part to losing Nathan Wrenn and Dan Balou to graduation as well as returning junior Clayton Acuff to a recent shoulder injury.

“He would have been one of our leaders,” Curtis said of Acuff, whom he considers a key piece of the team’s nucleus. “That really hurts losing him. We hope to get him back by the end of the season.”

Having only eight wrestlers ” seven minus Acuff ” on the team also hurts, Curtis said. As a result of the low numbers, the chances of winning dual meets ” with 14 different weight classes collectively determining the final outcome ” are slim.

But Cole Hodges, a 140-pound junior described by Curtis as a “great athlete and competitor” and “someone to lean on this year,” sees potential in his team.

“We’ve got a lot of new kids who haven’t wrestled before, but the kids we have back are pretty good,” said Hodges, who has yet to finish out a full season due to an injured shoulder his freshman year and a broken leg last year.

Those back from last year include lone senior Steve Whitten and juniors Nick Krasensky, Hodges and Ron Curtis’ son, Tim. The new guys are freshmen Robert Raber, Ryan Pearce and Bobby Waters.

With the 130-pound Claesson gone ” now wrestling as a freshman at North Idaho College ” Tim Curtis has assumed the leadership role. He said he doesn’t mind, but he misses his former teammate.

“It’s not the same [without Claesson],” said Tim Curtis, who plans to wrestle at 152 pounds this year. “I’ve been working with him for about eight years. This is the first year without him.”

And while Tim Curtis inherited Claesson’s role as the team’s leader, he makes no claim to fully filling his void.

“No one is a better captain than Buck,” he said.

Whitten, who weighs in at 189 pounds, acknowledged that the team is not what it was last year, but said a strength may lie in its will to improve, especially among the younger wrestlers.

“The freshmen seem to be pretty motivated,” Whitten said, “so I think they’ll be good once they get the moves down.”

Becoming competent performing the plethora of moves that exist is important, Ron Curtis said, and the new team members are learning quickly.

“I’m prepared to work with the young kids to try to get them to a higher level as fast as possible,” Ron Curtis said. “They’re just kind of green. I’m doing a lot of teaching right now.

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