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  • Keith Hjelle

Winter Sports Teams Begin Preparation for Upcoming Basketball, Wrestling Seasons

Optimism abounds as seventy six scholar-athletes on three Charger teams have begun preparation for the ACGC winter sports' season. Coaches report that thirty five girls are out for the girls' basketball team, twenty one boys for the boys' basketball team, and twenty grapplers for the wrestling team.

Coach Arron Dose begins his first year as the Charger head girls' coach with a squad consisting of five seniors, eight juniors, nine sophomores and thirteen freshman. Six letter winners return from last year's team including seniors Madison Berger, Mady Smith, and Morgan Meachem. Returning junior letter winners are Savana Fuller and Sierra O'Brien, with sophomore Olivia Laabs also back from last year.

When asked how early practices are going, Dose offered these remarks: "Practice has gone well, with every player working hard for spots on the varsity, junior varsity, and freshman levels. We look forward to our jamboree at Exira on Thursday versus Exira-Elkhorn-Kimballton. The kids are very excited for our 'Meet the Chargers' night on Friday night and for our scrimmage at Humbolt on Saturday." The regular season opens next Monday, November 20 when the Chargers will travel to Audubon to face the Wheelers in a double girls event, with the JV game to begin at 6 PM. First home contest will be on Monday, November 27, when the Chargers will entertain IKM-Manning in a Pride Scrimmage to begin at 6 PM.

Dose, who is assisted by Dan Baker and Colin Shawgo, said that the girls will have several off the court responsibilities this season. "One of them is the Charger Pals youth program. Each high school player will be mentoring a youth basketball player through activities such as writing letters and checking with the young girls on school work and other activities. Throughout the season high school players will also undergo college prep and research sessions during team study tables."

Jake Mohling, assisted again by Lance Kading, begins his third year as the boys' basketball mentor and has expectations of a winning record this year. "Coming off last year's 3-20 record, we have a lot of room for improvement. But we have five seniors, several of whom have been four-year varsity members." Six letter winners return, including seniors Quenton Spak, Collin Stowe, and Caden Wardyn, with Justin Plowman and Garrett Young rounding out the senior class. Other returning letter winners are junior Noah Nelson and sophomores Bryce Littler and Quynton Younker.

Mohling went on to say, "Our greatness weaknesses last year were shooting and ball handling. We shot less than 40% as a team and averaged just over twenty turnovers a game. Shooting in the off-season was highly stressed and I foresee our guards handling the ball much better this year. If we can improve shooting beyond the arc, that will open up space down low where we have multiple options with experienced players."

After a scrimmage at Humbolt this Saturday, the Charger cagers will play in a jamboree at Exira on Tuesday, November 21, followed by a Pride Scrimmage versus IKM-Manning on the home court on Monday, November 27. The regular season opens with a conference game versus Madrid on Tuesday, November 28. Eight of the first eleven games are at home this year.

Wrestling coach Shawn Danker begins his twentieth season at the helm of the Tiger and now Charger wrestling program with a career record of 332 dual wins against 158 losses, a winning percentage of 68%. Danker has consistently produced a quality team during his tenure in Guthrie Center. Three seniors, five juniors, one sophomore and eleven freshman make up this year's squad.

Danker says that the strength of the team lies in the fact that there is a lot of experience returning from last year. "We have a returning state qualifier and several district qualifiers. In addition there is a group of eleven freshman that have a lot of AAU experience." Returning letter winners include senior Zach Fees and juniors Blaine Beeler, Easton Benson, Gabe Rowley, Ben Kingery, and Spencer Grove. Seniors Seth Brokaw and Austin Gettler are also expected to see action. It is anticipated that several freshman will crack the starting lineup.

Danker, assisted by Kirk Davis, also said, "Our biggest issue will be a few open weights in the mid to upper range and our lack of depth at some weights. Also, with this being a young team, there will be many ups and downs as we progress and grow throughout the season. Growing pains will be occurring and anticipated. On the other hand, we should have a really tough tournament team with individuals that frequently place each weekend."

The grapplers will open their season on Thursday, November 30 when they will travel to East Union for a triple dual, with first tournament action slated at Nodaway Valley on Saturday, Deember 2. The Chargers will first wrestle at home on Saturday, December 16 when they will host the WCAC tournament.

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