For six seasons Waynesville has topped the Ozark Conference at season's end. Several of the school's wrestlers have ranked among the most elite in Missouri through the run, and many have even finished with medals in the state tournament finale.
On Wednesday some of the most successful wrestlers on this year's team talked about Waynesville's season so far, their individual successes and what it's like to prepare for each competition:
Q: From your perspective, how has the season gone so far?
Andrew Wallace: "It's been going good. We've had a few losses in some duels that we should have won, but we've had a few kids missing that have been hurt. Even without them, we've been doing a lot better than we were last year at this point. We have a lot of kids that are going to do well at state, I think."
Lemuel Johnson: "It's gone pretty good. I'm happy with what I've done so far, but I know I can do a lot better."
Todd Magoon: "I would say it's going pretty good, a lot better than I honestly was expecting. I'm a little shocked at myself and at all the improvements I made this summer."
Jacob Semple: "It's been an especially long season compared to any other sport. I've had some minor things happen, but nothing too major. Other than that, it's been great so far."
Q: How happy are you with your team's overall success?
Johnson: "We're doing pretty good, but I feel like we can do a whole lot better as far as putting in more work."
Q: How do you wrestle at such a high level?
Johnson: "I don't underestimate people so I just go in there and wrestle everyone the same and do my best and work hard."
Q: Which individual matches do you recall as the toughest?
Wallace: "The first tough match tI had this season was against Quinn Smith of Rockbridge; his dad is the head coach at Mizzou. It was tied up with 10 seconds left and I ended up getting out with 5 left and winning the match by one point. That one sticks out the most to me because he was supposed to beat me and I gave them a reason to believe that I'm better than [Smith]."
Johnson: "Probably when I wrestled for third place up at KCI, I beat the two-time state champion 5-1. That was probably the best match so far."
Magoon: "I beat [state-ranked] Zack Enlow from Timberland; that was a pretty good [match], it was a grind. Also, pinning [state-ranked] Jeff Help from Springfield."
Semple: The semi-finals against the Wisconsin state champion; that was like wrestling a fire hydrant – I couldn't move him. It took a lot of wearing and tearing to get him down."
Page 2 of 3 - Q: What is like for you and your team to be ranked among the top teams in the state?
Wallace: "It's a good feeling to know that we're being recognized as a team, but until it's actual state time, rankings don't matter too much to me. Anything can happen."
Semple: "It's a lot of fun, really. We bigger guys are really friendly to each other, compared to the little guys that are really mean to each other. It's really about meeting people, but very competitive all the same."
Q: What is it like to work with some of the best coaches in Missouri?
Wallace: "It's a great feeling that [the coaches] are always there for me and I know that I have a great wrestling room to wrestle in with a lot of kids that are going to make me better. The coaching staff we have here is outstanding."
Magoon: "It's a confidence booster, but [coaches] also reminds me to stay humble because the last three years none of [my success] has happened. It's pretty rewarding because all the coaches come from different backgrounds and different styles of wrestling."
Semple: "They certainly know what they're doing and they really make you know what you're supposed to do."
Q: How have you prepared throughout the entire season?
Wallace: "I've been working on things I've needed to work on since last year and sharpening all my things I need to do to eventually win state and win as a team."
Johnson: "It takes a lot of work and dedication to maintain the same weight and you can't just be eating whatever. We've been working on weaknesses so we can get better and work towards getting one championship at a time at conference, then districts, then at state."
Magoon: "Pushing through and keeping focused on just the task at hand – the Ozark Conference championship. We're just working one week at a time."
Q: Individually, what are your strengths and weaknesses?
Wallace: "For me, it's wrestling with less emotion because when I wrestle I like to let my emotions get the best of me sometimes and I go out there and try to totally dominate the [opponent] without having a game plan."
Johnson: "Everyone has different weaknesses. I've been working on different counters for how [previous opponents] actually scored on me. I've been working on different turns because I do the same one every time, and also holding people down – sometimes that's a problem. I think I can beat them next time."
Magoon: "I would say staying smart in matches, not doing stupid things to lose close matches. [Takedowns] are actually something that we've been working on in practice and hope to get the fall off of just wearing [opponents] out and taking them down."
Page 3 of 3 - Semple: "Physical fitness, actually my biggest advantage is my speed because opponents can't keep up with me. You have to have a balance of everything, though."
Q: What is it like to spar with some of your teammates in such a physically demanding sports?
Magoon: "Now, after being in the season for three months, it's actually kind of hard because you know what they do and they know what you do. You have to keep getting more creative and that actually helps in matches, too."
Q: Can the team compete for a state title in 2013?
Semple: "I think the potential is there, but it's really just being a team and grabbing it and doing what we need to do."