New St. Joseph Central Catholic wrestling coach Pete LeJeune says the team's work ethic is its greatest strength.
That work ethic was on display last week. Practice didn't start until Saturday, since the Crimson Streaks got a week off after football season ended, but members of the team were still at the wrestling hall on Front Street, conditioning and sparring with each other.
"I'm happy with the kids coming out when they don't have to," said LeJeune, who took over for Mike Naufel as Crimson Streaks coach after serving as an assistant for six years.
The story of the wrestling team at SJCC hasn't changed much lately. It's a small school that has a hard time filling every weight in a tournament. At least for now, LeJeune said, the team is emphasizing individual goals.
"The numbers that we have, we're not going to be looking for team titles," he said. "If I can get numbers up, we definitely could compete for titles."
In what's a change from recent years, the Crimson Streaks have a solid lineup in the upper weights.
"You usually have a hard time getting the big kids out," LeJeune said. "We're thin in the lower weights."
The strength in the upper weight starts with Corey Durbin, who finished fifth at districts last year, just missing a trip to state. Instead, he went along with SJCC state qualifier Tivo Ysasi, who ended up going 0-2, but still received accolades and attention for making the trip to Columbus. Durbin wants to do the same, and it's inspired him to become a leader.
"Corey wants to work hard because he wants to place at state," LeJeune said. "I think a lot of people feed on that."
LeJeune said Durbin, who'll probably wrestle at 220, is the driving force behind the gatherings at the wrestling hall before formal practices.
"You've got to have leaders," LeJeune said. "You've got to have people who work hard. That's a good start for him."
Durbin also has an innate recruiting ability, LeJeune said, as people see his strength and work ethic -- in football as well as wrestling -- and want to follow him.
"He's thrown me around a little bit," LeJeune said. "he's a tough kid."
Jacob Wurzel will likely wrestle at 195. He's gotten taller and lost weight, and LeJeune said he's put in his time in the weight room. Jake Widman will probably wrestle at heavyweight, following in the footsteps of his brother Scott, who also wrestled for SJCC, and was a district qualifier.
LeJeune also has high expectations for senior Sean Vasquez, who will probably wrestle at 132.
"He's a hard-working kid," LeJeune said. "There's no quit in him and he's a workout fiend."
One disadvantage the Streaks have is inexperience. LeJeune said most of the wrestlers have no experience before middle school, and some are wrestling for the first time in high school. However, he said that could be an asset, since they haven't formed bad habits.
But LeJeune said he's fortunate enough to have athletes.
"That's the one thing I can work with," he said. "I can teach them to wrestle."