Wrestling program recoops after first season without coach J.J. Thaw

Kaete Schmidt

More stories from Kaete Schmidt



Wrestling coaches J.J. Thaw and Tommy Edgmon watch and advise wrestlers during a match. Thaw died just before the state tournament last year; wrestlers are preparing for a season without their long-time assistant.

As winter sports practices begins, this brings nerves as well as excitement. For the wrestling program, this season marks the beginning of a new chapter for the team. After the sudden death of assistant wrestling coach J.J. Thaw, wrestlers prepare to begin their first season without Thaw present.

“I mean it’s gonna be different during competitions, not having him yelling at me constantly, always trying to make me better. He was just very knowledgeable and kept telling me what I need to do after matches and now I’m not going to have him in the corner anymore which is really sad, but it is just a new beginning,” senior Dante Harper said. “He has been a huge influence to our school, he made a huge impact on my wrestling experience at the high school,” Harper said.

Not only did Thaw make a significant mark on the wrestling team, but his presence was able to change the entire atmosphere of any room.

“J.J. was a different breed. The presence of him just brought a good feeling into the room. You can be serious but joking at the same time,” senior Wyatt Hendrickson said. “Like he would do some stuff and he would yell but then turn around and start laughing. Funny stuff like that. It was really different, it was awesome. I have such great memories about him.”

Even though Thaw is no longer with the team physically, they believe that his presence is still here.

“While I am wrestling I can still hear his voice. He would always yell the basics because when you are wrestling a lot, you forget the basics and that is what he would yell. Now I can just hear him and fix it,” Hendrickson said. “It is definitely sad and different now. J.J. was always cheering you on, and when he was cheering you on, you did not want to let him down. You were gonna bust your butt off and make it happen.”

Despite the absence of Thaw and his feedback, Hendrickson believes that the team will persevere and have a strong outcome this season.

“We have a solid line up we have a bigger number of coaches that will be on the mat and able to wrestle with us so we will definitely gain more wrestling skills,” Hendrickson said. “Our juniors are our power house right now. Dante and I are seniors so we should be some of the finalists, if not, champs. We have a really good shot at getting at least 4th at state.”

Not only do the wrestlers hope to finish strong this season, but they also hope to commemorate Thaw in different ways throughout the season.

“Last year at the state tournament we had a banner display in remembrance of him and now it will be in the room and we will continue to honor him in many different ways throughout the year,” varsity head coach Tommy Edgmon said. “We are definitely going to wrestle in memory of him.”