Coach Kit Doran is in his first year as the Lady Lakers wrestling coach, and after inheriting a program that included a mere handful of wrestlers last season, he’s excited to see the growth they have already experienced. The girls team has grown exponentially, thanks in large part to the offseason recruiting efforts by the returning wrestlers.
“It’s been a big turnaround here at Camdenton,” coach Doran remarked.
Camdenton currently has about 25 girls on the team and Doran is making it a priority as their regular season approaches to be able to compete in all weight classes.
“We want to be able to field a full team… try to fill 14 weight classes,” Doran said about the much larger number of girls he has wrestling for his team this year.
While it is his first year as the girls wrestling coach at Camdenton, Doran makes the move to girls coach after being an assistant coach with the boys team for the last four years under coach Grant Leighty who, until this year, had coached both girls and boys wrestling. Despite the change in scenery, Doran has not changed his coaching style or approach, saying, “I don’t treat these girls any different than the boys.”
The team has high expectations for the year, with Coach Doran stating that the ultimate goal is to be in the top ten of the state rankings, a challenge that will begin with their first match of the season against a Smith-Cotton team that Doran said was in that ranking range last season. His desire to come out of the gate strong and defeat Smith-Cotton was echoed by three of his wrestlers standing nearby who were also quite vocal about wanting to win that game. Those three wrestlers, sophomore Clara Rathman, freshman Abbey Fuglsang, and senior Haleigh Vanskike, embodied the high expectations that coach Doran spoke of. Aside from beating Smith-Cotton, when asked what their goals were for the season and without missing a beat, all three were in agreement— “be a state champ.”
Winning a state championship is an audacious goal for most teams, but with Rathman coming off qualifying for state last year and Fuglsang finishing as a state finalist, this Lady Lakers team has the right leadership in place to guide their newly expanded team to that lofty goal. Contributing to the air of confidence the wrestlers exuded, Vanskike quickly revised her initial number of five girls to ten, in reference to how many of her teammates she wanted to see qualify for state.
In addition to the goal of having nearly half the team qualify for the state championship, the girls also expressed the ever present desire among Camdenton sports teams to beat Lebanon, or as Vanskike put it, “swat the Jackets!”
Although a bit more tempered in his rhetoric than that of his wrestlers, coach Doran is a fan of his team’s confidence, saying, “I like their attitude… we’ll be competitive.” His girls have also taken it upon themselves to have a “healthy rivalry” with the Lakers’ boys wrestling team, wanting to have a better season and more state qualifiers than their male cohorts at Camdenton.
The Lady Lakers have less than two weeks left to prepare before they start their quest to accomplish these goals and more when they host their first match of the season against the Smith-Cotton Lady Tigers and the West Plains Zizzers on Tuesday, Nov. 30.