The Washington wrestling Blue Jays are living in a post-Jared Rennick reality.
The 2016 state champion has traded in his Washington uniform for a Drury University jersey, leaving the Blue Jays with just one returning state qualifier.
Even with Rennick gone, Washington Head Coach Josh Ohm said he is still a source of inspiration for the Blue Jays.
“Following the lead of Rennick, with confidence, work ethic and the correct focus, anything is possible,” he said. “It does not matter what other people believe, it only matters what we believe in.”
The Blue Jays are looking to send more wrestlers to state this year in order to compete for a state title, something Ohm sets as the team goal every season.
“It’s the same goal for as long as I have been here and for as long as I will be here,” Ohm said. “Qualify as many athletes as possible for the state meet to compete for a state team title.”
Washington’s only returning state qualifier from last year is Joe Omer, who made it at 113 pounds. Omer went 2-2 at state, narrowly missing out on a medal.
Washington’s Cody Hey has been a state medalist in the past at 113 pounds. The senior medaled as a sophomore, but spent much of last season recovering from a shoulder surgery.
The Blue Jays also return five letterwinners who had winning records last year — Tommy Kelpe, Calvin Obermark, Jon Kelpe, Austin Gaebe and Connor Muller.
The Blue Jays are excited about newcomers to the program. Seniors Matt Hoemann, Matt McGilvray and Alec Holtmeyer will cross over from the gridiron to the wrestling mats for the first time.
“We have a great group of seniors who are new to wrestling, but we will look for them to contribute immediately,” Ohm said.
Ohm expects to face fierce competition within the GAC.
“We are in a very tough conference with the GAC,” he said. “We look forward to the challenge of competing with all three divisions of the GAC.”
Ohm will be assisted by Paul LaVigne, Kurt Hey, Doug Hanify, Devon Fenstermarker and Joe Callahan.
The Blue Jays recently held their annual Black and Blue Night. The evening determined who gets to wrestle on varsity to begin the season.
“We will have over 40 athletes compete at our annual Black and Blue Night to earn their spot in the lineups,” Ohm said.
Washington has three home meets this season, beginning with a dual against Rolla and Owensville Nov. 29 in the opening matches of the season.
The Blue Jays also host Ft. Zumwalt South Dec. 14 and Holt and Ft. Zumwalt East Jan. 11.
Washington will be in four tournaments.
The Blue Jays compete in the Westminster Invitational Dec. 2-3.
They go to the Raytown South Tournament Dec. 16-17.
After Christmas, Washington wrestles in the Lindbergh Flyer Holiday Tournament Dec. 27-28.
Finally, the Blue Jays compete in the Seckman Tournament Feb. 4.