Senior members...of the 2014-15 Odessa Bulldogs wrestling team are, front, from left, Mason Bake, Brett Shull, Jake Bartow, Tommy Hardin; back, Cole Stodghill, Hunter Palmer, Dalton Koch.
Talent rich, title hungry
Odessa head coach Kirk Gross is ecstatic about his senior class on this year's wrestling team.
"On paper, this is my most talented class of seniors since I have been at Odessa," he said.
The list includes Jake Bartow, 152/160, Cole Stodghill, 195/220, Dalton Koch, 220/HWT, Tommy Hardin, 126/132, Brett Shull, 126/132, Mason Bake, 126/132, and Hunter Palmer, 170/182.
"Other than Hunter, all of these seniors have been wrestling at least four years," Gross added. "Bartow, Stodghill, Bake and Shull have been wrestling longer than that so they know how to get it done. They know the expectations I have for them, and I know they want to reach those goals. It seems a lot of times you come into a season trying to talk the kids in for fighting for championships, but this group is different. They know they have the talent to get it done. It is not arrogance but confidence, and I love that about them."
Bartow, Koch, Bake and Shull lettered last season along with Logan Windsor, 106/113, Dakota Miller, 120/126, Luke Drenon, 138/145, Chance Lewis, 182/195, Garrett Peek, 120/126, Dakota Roark, 170/182, Austin Weygandt, 160/170, Taylor Airrington, 138/145, and Garrett Fiegenbaum, 195/220.
Miller was a First Team All-MRVC West selection last season and placed third at the state championships at 120. Windsor, Shull, Airrington and Koch made the Second Team. Read more in The Odessan.
Seniors... Senior members of the 2014-15 Odessa Bulldogs are, from left, Calieb Bennett, Cameron Hilbrenner, Cody Behrman, Colby Nickels, Ryan Palmer.
Hungry for a spot in the state tournament
Seven players return this season from last year's Odessa boys basketball squad that finished 12-15. Cody Behrman, Calieb Bennett, Cameron Hilbrenner, Colby Nickels and Ryan Palmer make up the talented senior class. Nickels was a First Team All-MRVC West selection a season ago while Behrman made the Second Team. Nickels was the only Bulldog named to the All-District team.
"Cody is a good shooter who can post up because he has the athleticism to score around the basket," said head coach Mike Elliott. "Calieb is aggressive and provides our team with energy. He's one of our best passers with excellent vision and court awareness. Cameron is athletic and can drive to the rim and rebound. Colby is versatile. He plays several positions and can score in a variety of ways, on the post, driving to the basket or he can spot up for a jumper. Ryan plays hard at both ends of the floor for us and is very unselfish."
Joining the five seniors on the list of returning lettermen are juniors Josiah Bennett and Jacob Weber.
"Josiah is versatile. He has touch from 15-20 feet and has the ability to operate well in the post," Elliott commented. "Jacob is a high energy player with a good motor. He runs the floor well and is a good rebounder." Read more in The Odessan.
Senior members...of the 2014-15 Wellington-Napoleon Tigers basketball team are, from left, Alex Rodenberg, Aaron Schuster, Levi Banner, Drew Bunch.
Tigers couldn't be more ready
Levi Banner, Drew Bunch, Alex Rodenberg and Aaron Schuster will provide senior leadership this season for the Tigers basketball team that is coming off two straight Elite 8 appearances.
"Levi has been our point guard for a few years now," said head coach Todd Shannon. "He does a good job of handling the ball and getting us into our offense. He can also shoot from that position. Alex has always been a pretty good shooter. He is a smart player and is always looking to find ways to spot up for his shot. Drew is a good post player in the paint that is physical, as well. Aaron is a physical presence on the interior that has a nice shot from 15 feet and works hard on the glass."
Banner, Bunch and Rodenberg should all return to the starting lineup this year along with Dallas Reynolds and Tristan Green.
"Dallas is a streaky shooter, but when he gets hot he can shoot with the best of them," Shannon said. "He is the type of player that makes things happen. Tristan is versatile. He can play in the interior and step out and shoot the three ball as well. He is a hard matchup for opposing teams."
Banner and Green were First Team All-Conference selections last season, while Rodenberg received Honorable Mention. All three were named to the All-District team. All five returning starters could find themselves on the All-Conference team by the end of the season, but those players won't have to carry the entire load. Shannon says this team will be deep.
"Levi, Dallas, Alex, Blake Gray and Duncan Hughes will play guard for us this season. They can all handle the ball and shoot. They're going to be expected to pressure the ball and defend aggressively on the perimeter. Offensively they need to run the floor in transition and look to spot up when the opportunity arises. We run a lot of four around one sets and the main ones in the frontcourt for us will be Drew, Tristan, Aaron and Luke Schaberg. With us not being real tall, we are going to have to work on the boards and defend the bigger guys with our quickness and positioning rather than our size." Read more in The Odessan.