With more than two decades at the helm, AC/GC head coach Shawn Danker has seen his fair share of talent walk through the wrestling room doors.
And with any team, depth is at the top of demands. This year’s Charger team will be no different, as they should provide a solid core of veterans as AC/GC takes aim at reaching the state tournament yet again.
Both sophomore Seth Danker (a 2018 state qualifier) and 100-match winner Blaine Beeler (2016 state qualifier) return as key cogs in the Chargers wrestling machine. They’ll bolster a fairly young but talented roster in Guthrie Center, as Danker himself was only a freshman last year when he reached the state tournament.
Beeler has racked up 113 career wins while fellow seniors Easton Benson (54-19) and Gabe Rowley (64-43) have
combined for nearly 120 wins.
It’s a roster coach Danker has fairly significant confidence in as the 2018-19 campaign begins.
“It looks as though we will have some decent depth and with most all weights filled, which could help us in dual situations,” Danker said. “We should have a really solid dual team as well as a tough tournament team with individuals that frequently stand on the podium each weekend.”
Danker has compiled a 344-174 career record during 21 years of coaching at Guthrie Center and AC/GC, including twice reaching the team state tournament and eight appearances at the regional state dual tournament.
The 2018-19 roster is not only deep, but young, with nine freshman having a decent shot at making noise.
Danker will slide in at 113 pounds while fellow sophomores Gunnar Larsen (132), and Gage Buttler (220) should make and impact as well. Additionally, freshmen Dawson Muller (106), Trevin Suh (126) and Gavin Cornelison (170) could play roles. As a freshman last winter, Seth Danker went 33-13, reaching the state tournament in his first go around. A handful of freshman also tallied winning records a year ago, including Larsen, Cale Rowley, and Cristion Nolte.
“This year we will have a great number of quality sophomores returning and a solid number of freshmen coming in,” coach Danker said. “There are more who will be stepping into the line up as role players as the season moves along.”
Despite the youth, many of those sophomores, and of course the senior core, have been around the varsity mat for quite some time. That’ll only give the Chargers a leg up on the competition as the season progresses.
“We have a team that has a lot of experience,” Danker said. “We have two returning state qualifiers and multiple district qualifiers.
(I am) very excited for this season with the mixture of experienced upperclassmen and newcomers.”
With those underclassmen comes a few question marks, naturally, especially at the heavyweight classes. Building strength early on while stressing technique could prove quite vital, Danker said.
Just four seniors have wrestled at least 50 matches, with Ben Kingery rounding out the veteran quartet with a 15-49 career record at 195 pounds.
“With this being a fairly young team, there will be several ups and downs as we progress and grow throughout the season,” Danker said. “Growing pains will be occurring and anticipated.”
Seth Danker (113 pounds) enters Thursday’s season-opening meet in Stuart as the ninth-rated wrestler in Class 1A.
AC/GC is set to host a 1A sectional tournament Feb. 2 in Guthrie Center, where they’ll square off against Panorama, West Central Valley, AHSTW, Exira-EHK, Nodaway Valley, and Ogden.
The district tournament will be held the following Saturday, Feb. 9 at Interstate 35 High School in Truro.
Thursday’s season-opener pits the Chargers against WCV, East Union and Nod-away Valley.
They’ll travel to Greenfield two days later on Saturday to battle in a tournament beginning at 9 a.m.