Red Devils young, but confident

Evanston prepares for 2017-18 season

EVANSTON — Larry Wagstaff doesn’t sugarcoat things.

As the Evanston High School wrestling coach enters his 37th season at the helm, Wagstaff is quick to point out he was not satisfied with last year’s seventh-place finish at the state tournament.

He said the Red Devils were capable of more.

This season will be a “reloading” year as Wagstaff calls it. Evanston graduated 10 seniors from last year’s team and adds nearly 15 freshmen — five of whom could see time at the varsity level. 

Seniors who gradated and placed at state last season include Garrett Foster (sixth, 132), Sam Lester (fourth, 138), Malek Wagstaff (fifth, 145), Griffen Mitchell (fifth, 152), Isaiah Sowers (third, 160), Gage Stewart (fifth, 170) and Dylan Skaggs (fourth, 195).

Gavin Simmons, a senior this year, also placed fourth at 182 pounds as a junior. He took second at regionals.

“Overall, I think we’ll be a pretty tough team,” Simmons said.

Simmons believes the Red Devils will make significant strides throughout the season as the freshman class gets more experience.

“It’s really cool to see, from the beginning of the year even to the middle of the season, the improvement that the freshmen make,” Simmons said. “It’s a day and night difference. When it comes to the state tournament, they wrestle better than ever and it’s great to watch.”

Overy is also optimistic about the year.

“There’s a lot of really good wrestlers, a lot of guys that really work their tails off and have good technique,” he said. “That will help us go a long way.”

Larry Wagstaff believes the upperclassmen will help guide this year’s freshmen.

“They will set a good example,” Wagstaff said. “And the freshmen just love to wrestle and compete.”

Evanston will host its annual invitational Dec. 8 and 9. Wagstaff says it is the oldest tournanament in the state, but he doesn’t know what year it started.

“It started before me in 1978,” he said.

The tournament was previously the largest in the state, but still features 16 teams from four states.

The Red Devils open the season on Thursday with a dual meet at home.

“Overall, I think we’ll be a pretty tough team,” Simmons said.

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