Breeze-Courier Sports Editor
TAYLORVILLE — Despite only rostering six individuals a season ago, the THS wrestling program had a tremendous year in 2022- ’23. The team a handful of individuals to the post- season with senior William Blue finalizing the most decorated career of any Taylorville wrester in history.
Head Coach Jake Smothers is entering his fifth season coaching at Taylorville and his twenty-second wrestling season between competing and coaching.
“I got the opportunity to be an assistant the year after I graduated high school when I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and immediately fell in love with it.” He tells. “I decided to compete collegiately just so I could learn from their level and take it back to my coaching career.”
Smothers’ knowledge is something he hopes to continue to pass down into each individual the steps on the mat. Facing unknown challenges and uphill climbs will always be apart of the journey.
“Last season was tough.” Says the Head Coach. “We had six individuals on the active roster which made for a long dual season and a tough practice environment to excel in. William Blue was still able to have a great year and came just a few seconds short of being a State placer. Landon Molina also had a great year that just didn’t end the way he wanted it to. Ethan Dyer, too, had a breakout year and put a lot of people on notice. I’m excited for him to carry that momentum into this year.”
With a filled out roster, the 2023-’24 THS wrestling team will look to senior, junior combo Aiden Seiler and Ethan Dyer.
“This year we will have our returning IHSA 1A Sectional Qualifier Ethan Dyer,” Smothers says. “as well as our senior Aiden Seiler whose season was cut short due to injury last year. Aiden has wrestled most of his life, and if he can stay healthy will be dangerous this year.”
Barring any injuries, the Taylorville wrestling team will aim to spread the dominance around focusing on each individual’s growth and adding to their skill set.
“This year we have our numbers back up to where we can mostly fill a lineup and give our best shot at every dual.” Explains Coach Smothers. “We have some very talented athletes who have shown they enjoy the grind and are willing to be coachable and get better. We have a great staff in place to ensure that all wrestlers at every level, weight, and grade succeed and become the best version of themselves in the process.”
The sport is necessary for any young athlete’s development in terms of mental clarity and physical combat. Let’s meet some more individuals who actively seek those out.
“Blake Daugherty and Josef Hamell are returning and have made big strides in their career from last year.” Smothers continues. “We have lost our two upper weights Molina and Blue, who were both state qualifiers and great practice partners in the room. It will be tough losing them, but they did a good job of making sure the underclassmen last year were ready for that transition. Upperclassmen showing the young guys the way has been a staple in Taylorville Wrestilng Culture.
Smothers continues to explain the roster piece by piece.
“Colton Kalka will be returning after his season was taken away from an injury last year, and he has been showing promise in the room. He was a leader on the football field and helped the Tornadoes football team get back to the playoffs, and i think he will keep that momentum going into the wrestling season. Him and AIden Seiler have been great in the room and leaders for us so i expect big things out of them this year.”
A few new faces have shown up on the program’s doorstep and were met with open arms.
“We’ve got a transfer freshman from Auburn who was an IESA Sectional Qualifier in Owen Durbin,” Smother informs. “as well as an IESA State Finalist in Brock Walton at 285 lbs. So, we have an exciting young class coming up. Lincoln Coffey is also a young freshman who was an IESA Sectional Qualifier and secured the Tom Carmody JV Invitational Championship at 120 lbs last weekend.”
The Taylorville wrestling program has been searching for that magic it once had in early 2010s. Was last season the spark it needed? More importantly, will this season be the continuation that kicks off a new generations “Glory Days”?
“Overall, I’m excited we have got our numbers back and we have good rivalries in the room and good culture so we can continue to grow the team and grow our expectations. Taylorville Wrestling is making a comeback to its golden days of the past and I’m excited that I get to be on this journey with them. If everything goes right this year, we will be able to turn some heads. Go Tornadoes!”