Article Source Written By: Colin Likas Jan 6, 2020

Now in the midst of his 14th season in the charge of the Bulldogs’ program — capturing Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association Hall of Fame status in the process — he offers insight on his program and more:

Your boys closed 2019 on a challenging note.

The Granite City tournament (on Dec. 28), that’s probably the toughest tournament on our schedule. … Missouri schools are at the Granite City tournament, so you’ve got some nationally-ranked type schools that are there. So that made it real difficult. We had four guys medal, top eight, and then we had three others in the top 10.

How would you compare this roster to others you’ve had recently?

We have 29 guys on our roster. Maybe for the area that’s pretty good. For us, that’s actually down, second year in a row. We were in the 30s. I’ve been as high as almost 50 since I’ve been here. The numbers have declined as of late. Wrestling is a hard sport, so it takes a lot of dedication. … I feel pretty good about our lineup. I think we’ve got some guys that are kind of learning their way, filling holes in our varsity, and hopefully by the end (of the regular season) they’ll be ready to go for that regional tournament. The guys that are pretty much mainstays for our lineup, they’re doing really well.

Who are some of those guys?

Seth Buchanan has been our top wrestler at heavyweight, doing really well leading our team. Placed first at Hinsdale South and third at Granite City. … Daniel Renshaw won on criteria to get into the top bracket and out of his pool (in Granite City’s 220 field). … Mateo Casillas, freshman at 195, a man’s weight, really is learning as he goes. But he’s such a good athlete and such a competitor.

You’ve accomplished a lot in your time with the Bulldogs. Any one favorite moment?

It would definitely be hard to nail down just one team or one thing. Every year it’s a little different, every year a different dynamic. … It’s been pretty special. As you said, since I’ve been here I’ve had a lot of personal accolades, which is a result of having some great kids do some great things. … Being able to walk as a grand marshal (at the IHSA state finals) a couple years ago, that was pretty special. Standing in the tunnel and being overcome with emotion and asking for Kleenex and thinking, “This is something.”

Colin Likas is prep sports coordinator at The News-Gazette. His email is clikas@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@clikasNG).