Todd Conley has been coaching wrestling at Randolph high school for 25 years. In his time there, he’s learned a thing or two about putting together a successful team, and this year is no exception. He sat down with the Jamestown Gazette to discuss which specific athletes have contributed to Randolph’s strong season, to highlight his team’s tournament successes, and to reflect on the athletic year as his boys head into postseason.
Cortney: This season, what boys on your team have risen to the top?
Coach Conley: We have a very good team this year. We have the Evans brothers: Matt Evans, a junior, has placed at sectionals three times, and his brother, Marcus Evans, is a freshman who is undefeated, 21-0. He went to states last year as an eighth grader. I have a 120-pounder, Wyatt Sluga, who has greatly improved and I expect him to place at sectionals. I have a senior at 195 pounds, Marshall Johnson, and his record is currently is 22-2… I also have two strong heavyweights, 285-pounders, and they both have good chances to progress in the postseason, too. This team also has a lot of great guys in the supporting cast. Dylan Williams, a 160-pound senior, has only wrestled for two years but he comes to practice and works hard every day. He’s the kind of guy who helps make our team a team. I have a lot of people on my team like that; they’re the glue that holds us together.
Cortney: You have your final matches approaching in the next few weeks. Compare your team now to your team at the beginning of the season: how have they improved?
Coach Conley: Unfortunately, we have had some problems, like injuries, so our numbers are smaller. But the goal is to always focus on the positive and move forward with the young men that you do have. I certainly wanted to work with them and get them to the places that they wanted to go. And I have a good enough team at this point to hopefully have a strong finish.
Cortney: What would you say have been some of the most exciting highlights of your season?
Coach Conley: As far as our tournament competitions have gone, the team this year is probably the best I’ve had. We’ve placed highly at some extremely difficult tournaments; for example, the Southern Tier Wrestling Officials Tournament was held just before Christmas and there were 20- something odd teams competing. A lot of schools were much larger than us, but we got fourth place – the highest I’ve ever placed there with any of my teams. We also won first place in the Portville Invitational and third place at the Ripley Invitational. Last weekend, at Falconer’s Patrick J. Morales Tournament – which I thought was one of the toughest I’ve ever been to – we wound up in third place. So, tournament-wise, this season has been my most successful.
Cortney: Any last reflections on your season?
Coach Conley: Wrestling is a long season. It’s a lot of physical and mental endurance. You want to manage the boys well so that they’re strong when the season closes – where we are right now. It’s important to teach them how to take care of their bodies and health, monitor their weight, eat right, and do well in school, because that’s what’s most important. Just to have them be able to keep a good pace moving through the season, so we can be strong at the end. And like I said, we have a few fellows on our team who have a chance to compete in the postseason and potentially qualify for the state tournament, which is really the ultimate goal.
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