By Will Willems
Dover — There is a new man in charge of the Western Boone wrestling team.
Matt Joyce, who wrestled at Southmont and Manchester before being an assistant coach at Greenfield-Central, is now the head coach of the Stars. He was hired just a couple of weeks ago, so he had a late start with the team, but has liked the progress the team has made so far.
“Coach (Bobby) Taylor, our assistant and Junior High coach, has done a really good job of getting them a solid base,” Joyce said. “He was getting them in here to work out and get in shape. When I came in, they had a really good base.”
Joyce said the other important thing for the Stars is that the kids are coachable.
He said they have been receptive to his coaching style.
“The kids listen well,” Joyce said. “They listen, pay attention, are doing what we ask of them and they are working hard. I haven’t been here all that long, so it is still a work in progress, but we are getting there.”
The Stars struggled last season, having just one regional qualifier in recent graduate Levi Scott.
Joyce said the slate is clean this year, and that he just expects the team to continue to grow as the season goes on.
“I expect hard work, that is just a base for me,” Joyce said. “If it looks like they have given their all and left it all on the mat, that is what I expect all season.”
Western Boone has some pieces back from last year’s team.
Joyce said a couple of them have stepped up and shown good leadership so far in this season.
“Mason West and Stephen Blad are the two that come to the top of my mind,” Joyce said. “They have really been helpful in teaching and keeping the pace up the room. It has been really good to see from them.”
The Stars have no seniors and just four juniors this year.
With such a young team, Joyce said the biggest thing that has helped the team is their willingness to get better.
“You can’t beat their enthusiasm,” Joyce said. “On top of being coachable, you can’t teach the enthusiasm that they have. They are all ready to go and we don’t have to drag the hard work out of them. Being a young team, that is really exciting to see. We have a young group, we don’t have any seniors and we have a good program coming up.”
When looking at the strengths of the team, Joyce said there a few traits that have stood out to him as he has coached the team the past couple of weeks.
“From a general team perspective, I think we work well together,”Joyce said. “We have a tight-knit group. We have a core group of kids that are going to do what we ask, they are going to work hard and we are going to have a couple standouts if everything goes well.”
Western Boone starts their regular season on Thursday when they host Crawfordsville.
Joyce said the first few meets are going to be important for the Stars.
“We had an intra-squad meet last week, just to try and get past those jitters and to get a feel of what it will be like wrestling in front of other people,” Joyce said. “I think these first couple of meets, it is going to show us what we have to work on. Really until you get into a full blown match it is hard to tell sometimes.”
Joyce added that there are some things that the Stars are going to be working on, but it is going to change as the season goes on.
“We have a good base, and now we are hitting the basics,” Joyce said. “We want to see how we progress throughout the season. Really, this year it is going to be a week-to-week thing on what we need to work on.”