Alliance Wrestling: Fighting in the Shade


Chloe Mann, Staff Writer

Winter sports season is finally over, and Alliance High School has had quite an eventful season. With the COVID-19 pandemic, sports teams have been caught in many situations that have been difficult to overcome, and the Alliance Wrestlers are no exception. Despite all of the uncertainties the Alliance Wrestlers continued showing AHS that they can “Fight in the Shade”.

“Fight in the Shade.” Many people here at AHS have asked what this strange quote means. Head Wrestling Coach Nick Myers explains, “It goes back to the Battle of Thermopylae when 300 Spartans stood their ground and fought against the invading Persian Army. Modern historians number the Persian forces anywhere from 250,000 to 350,000. At the beginning of the battle, a Persian messenger was sent forth to negotiate one last “peace” before the battle began, ‘A thousand nations of the Persian Empire descend upon you. Our arrows will blot out the sun.’ Spartan Leader replies, ‘Then we will fight in the shade.’” This quote has been one that the wrestlers have used often this season. The Alliance Wrestlers have gone almost the entire year with six open weight classes at 106, 152, 170, 182, 195 and HWT, and they were outnumbered by nearly every opponent. 

When asked what it was like having six open weight classes, Myers responded, “Having only half of the weights filled was frustrating from a coaching standpoint. Having duals with only four matches was frustrating, but this was an issue across the state this year. Participation was down 10% statewide this season,” and he continued on by saying, “One might expect that it would have a negative result in the mindset of the team, but it was quite the opposite. Early on, the team focused on winning the duals on the mat, regardless of what the final score showed. This team competed very hard and gave in to no one. Having those open weights forged this team into one heartbeat where each member knew that each time they stepped to the line they had to bring their absolute best effort and focus. It could have wrecked our team and our season, and rather the team turned it into a positive and fought every single time.” 

As Myers said, winning on the mat is what mattered, rather than the end score of duals. When asked about how he felt about the team’s performance on the mat he replied, “Duane and I both are supremely satisfied and gratified with how far this team came along this last year. The progress made individually and as a team was a joy to get to be a part of.” But with the end of one season, there is always a start to another. Myers explained, “Moving forward, I have high hopes for everyone on the squad. All those returning were called upon at some point to step up and they all performed greatly, giving their full effort. With the focus and attitude returning to the room, we will continue this upswing. I’m very excited to see the growth and opportunities for the guys who were on JV this last year, which had very limited opportunities. Tate Thompson and Matthew Moomey are two in particular that worked their tails off this last season, knowing full well that matches would be few and far between. I’m excited for them to start to reap the benefits of their labor.” 

Just a few weeks after the season ended, the team members have already started open mats and attending camps. When asked what he was looking forward to, Myers stated, “ I’m looking forward to getting to work with these people again and continuing to mold a great team. We will have a few opportunities once school is out to get together as a team such as going to the Gering Duals, and UNK Team Camp in June. Another new team activity being added is a team retreat dealing with leadership, confidence, preparation, focus and teamwork. I’ve been in contact with the Lincoln Fire Department, and they are excited to provide the team this unique opportunity.” Preparations for next season have already started and the Alliance Bulldogs are ready to bring hard-work, commitment and leadership to the table.

The Alliance Wrestlers officially wrapped up their season with a banquet on March 25. Many tears were shed this year as they celebrated the final season of assistant coaching from The Man, The Myth, The Legend, Duane Dobson. Dobson has been in the corner and in the practice room for 50 years and will be a hard goodbye for the wrestlers. Among other events at the banquet, five awards were given by Myers. Zane Stroike (138lbs) was awarded “Hardest Worker”. Myers commented that he was the only wrestler with perfect attendance. Matthias Benzel (220lbs) was given “Most Improved”. “Relentless Bulldog” was awarded to Jaxon Minnick (132lbs). Asa Johnson (145lbs) won “Most Inspirational”, and “Most Outstanding Wrestler” was awarded to Philip Halstead (160lbs), who broke the season win record with 47 wins in his senior season. The three seniors, Minnick, Johnson and Halstead gave their “Thank-you to Wrestling” speeches at the banquet as well. There was no better way to wind down the season than a Bulldog family dinner. 

Overall, the Alliance Wrestlers had a great season “fighting in the shade”. Young bulldogs are already stepping up and taking leadership positions within the team. The mentality of this team has improved tremendously from the beginning of this year, and the SPUD wishes the Alliance Wrestlers the best of luck for their future seasons.