An advanced Waynesville wrestling team had no reason to display anything other than cheer in its first week of winter practice.
"Everybody is working hard, learning, and seems upbeat," Coach Jeff Davis said, now in his 15th year at the helm of the program.
Much of the work done in practice is to prepare Davis' warriors for another grueling, yet rewarding season. Technique is certainly something each wrestler must perfect before the season's beginning, yet, like in most sports, fundamentals are the basis for Waynesville's practices.
Head positioning, hand fighting, working to get off the mat, basic turns and fighting are "all we do work on," Davis said.
Those fundamentals are key if the six returning state-qualifiers wish to compete at a high level again in 2012. In addition to the state success, other Waynesville wrestlers have finished as high as conference champions. Even the incoming freshmen class has seen success at the youth and junior high levels.
Because of the amount of experience each student-athlete has earned, practices are very streamline. But, because the team must live up to this year's expectations, each wrestler must compete individually in practice each day for a chance to shine at season's end.
"[The wrestlers] are pretty much intrinsic and motivated," Davis said of his athletes. "They know what the goal is and they set their own goals and obviously they're very focused on that."
Davis said his team is focused on stringing together individual wins to hoist the Ozark Conference and State Championship trophies in spring 2013.
When asked if each individual wrestler can be successful, Davis said, "That's the plan."
"I hope we can take a large number the state meet, but more important is getting those guys to medal and compete for a championship."
Weight classes have not yet been dispersed due to MHSHAA regulations, but from top to bottom, Davis' team is loaded with competitors.
"I have a good idea of where our varsity is sitting," Davis said. "There's no sense in speculating too much until we get these guys where they belong."
Because of year-round training, Davis has a great feel for his varsity lineup and expects great individual performances at each duel. His excitement, however, is hardly noticeable.
"I get a little fired up here and there, but I try to stay as even-keel as possible," he said. "I'll get excited come districts."