• First contests are next weekend.
It’s not exactly the most conducive time to try and learn about your squad if you’re a coach. The winter season comes and then three days later a four-day weekend derails it with Thanksgiving plans. Some families are gone that first week which means some athletes are already behind in terms of the number of practices.
But, the process moves forward with wrestling matches scheduled for the Braves Brawl at SVHS next Friday and Saturday and basketball tournament play in Riverton for the roundballers.
Coach Eddie Clark is in his 25th season at Star Valley High School and likes what he sees so far.
“I feel good about it with about 50 kids right now,” he said. “We had some families gone and the holidays affect it and things look good. It’s going to take some time to work out weight classes but the kids look good.”
“We have good numbers and state place winners and two state champs in the room. We feel really good about things starting the season out.”
Last year Star Valley transitioned back into the Wyoming 4A classification for the first time since 2011. It’s likely to be a move that will never be reversed based on Star Valley’s student growth. Clark commented on one of the differences between 3A and 4A divisions.
“The biggest thing is that depth is so much more important at the 4A level,” he said. “Everyone has a larger team and there is a lot less room for error. Wrestling is wrestling. There were years that the 3A was tougher than the 4A. With us in the 4A and next year you bring up Green River again; 4A is going to be a stellar classification. It just means that margin is a lot smaller.”
Clark stated that part of the wrestling group includes 18 freshman. “The largest [freshman class] we’ve had in a long time,” he said. “Varying skill levels. Guys that have been through it and others who are just discovering the sport.”
Kade Erickson is back and has a slightly different staff as long-time coach Kade Wilkes has hung up his eraser board. Former Lady Braves head coach and long-time Star Valley coach, Jason Cazier, will move up from the sophomore team to the junior varsity team this season with Shaylynn Hathway taking over the sophomores. Susan Darlington will be the new freshman coach. Coach Erickson commented on the start of the season.
“I thought we had a pretty good vibe, for tryouts even,” he said. “This has probably been one of the easier years regarding cuts and such. I thought our practices had a lot of energy and the girls seemed pretty enthusiastic. So were’e exited about how the first three days went.”
This years team will be looking for more production from returning players both on the guard line and in the low block.
“The girls during summer ball took a bit of transition,” Erickson added. “I think we’ve got to have more points out of our guards and some of the girls who played a lot last year we’d like to have them increase their point production. As we go with other girls who fill those rolls they will need to be contributing.”
For the third straight season the head coach of the Braves will be someone different. Paul Kabonic stepped down and was replaced by Mitch Schwab last season who departed for other opportunities and responsibilities. This year the head job is filled by Matt Shumway who has spent the majority of his life and career in Preston, Idaho. He commented on his first week of practice at SVHS.
“For starters we’re going to be fairly young on the experience side,” he said. “Our two main returners will be PJ Horsley and Cooper Lancaster. I do like our athleticism and speed. I think we should be able to get up and down the court and cause some issues on defense.”
“We’re not real big and we’re not deep so we’ll try and stay out of foul trouble.”
Shumway tried to estimate what he imagines for the program this season.
“Offensively we wanna play pretty uptempo,” he said. “I can’t speak to previous play but I like to play fast but also under control. We’re going to try and value each possession as much as possible. We do have some sets we’ll get into at times. We’ll have some aggressive looks on defense and try to keep the other team off balance with what to expect. Having a little bit of a lack of size we’ll need to play faster but I like what I’ve seen so far.”