Posted: Thursday, November 26, 2015 1:00 am | Updated: 1:04 am, Thu Nov 26, 2015.
By AARON KENNEDY firstname.lastname@example.org
ROSSVILLE – The Rossville Hornets wrestling team is off to a strong start under the guidance of head coach Mike Fadness, who is back with the program after a one-year absence.
After starting their season with a win over the Caston Comets, the Hornets won all five of their matches at the Lafayette Jefferson Invitational.
“It’s been an amazing year so far,” Fadness said. “We are 6-0 for the first time ever, I imagine. I think the 2002 team that won conference may have – I am not sure how they started out, but they had a really good team.
“We are looking good for a run at conference this year,” he continued. “From our match against Caston to our tournament at Jeff, there was a huge difference. We talked about things that they worked on, and they did it. I couldn’t have asked for a better first tournament. It was phenomenal. They wrestled smart. And, they did all of the little things that make a big difference. They performed flawless. It was fantastic.”
Fadness coached the Rossville wrestling team from 2011 to 2014 before resigning to work a second job in Logansport. A year later, he left that job and was again available. Fate would have it that the Hornets ended up having an opening for a wrestling coach again.
“(Rossville athletic director) Bob (Knapp) called me and said ‘Mike, I am sure you know why I am calling you,’” Fadness said. “I prayed about it and there was no question this is where I was to be. So, I came in.
“I told God, ‘If you help me with this to be successful, I will take none of the credit. I don’t want any of the credit. I will give you all the credit,’” he added. “I have 16 wrestlers now. I just picked up a 106, so I have all of my weight classes except 195 filled, and I am going to be working on that. I give him all the thanks. He helps me.”
When Fadness took control of the program for the first time in 2011, the Hornets won five matches.
“I had never coached before,” he said. “I really relied on the Lord to help me establish what I needed to do. I have always worked with young men. I was in the service and taught in the military.”
Fadness completed a 20-year career in the Navy in 2009.
“I was always able to work with young men and relate to them,” he said. “I grew up kind of rough, too. I know a lot of wrestlers come from broken families and things like that. So, I was able to really relate to them.”
In his second year as the head coach, Fadness guided the Hornets to 12 wins. The year after that, they won 19.
“It really doesn’t have anything to do with the wins and the losses,” he said. “It has everything to do with watching these young men mature into positive citizens of life and of society. Once they have gone through my wrestling practice, they can take on anything, mentally, in what this world has to give them.
“I love these guys. I have been with a lot of these guys since they were in middle school. Some of them have come up through my (Hive Wrestling Club) program. I have always loved these guys, and it goes way beyond wins and wrestling because I understand how tough life is. If I could help any one of those boys make good choices and decision in life and make them a better person in life, then I succeeded. That was my whole goal – to make them better and let them know that they have somebody that cares for them and that they could call me at any time and I would be there for them.”
The Hornets are currently made up of seniors Chase Letizia (113-pound weight class), Ty Fadness (120), Devin Hodgen (160), Chris Fakes (182) and Kraig Tumey (220), six juniors, three sophomores and two freshmen.
Seniors Fadness and Hodgen and junior Ethan Ladd are the team captains.
“Ty has stepped it up,” the coach said of his son. “To see where he has come from his freshman year to wrestling, taking charge, running warm-ups in practice and stuff – Ty, Devin Hodgen and Ethan Ladd are really my leaders and my go-to guys this year.”
Though they are off to a 6-0 start, Fadness knows there is still plenty of room for improvement, and he believes some of his wrestlers have the potential to make a deep postseason run.
“They all want to shoot for it,” he said. “I know what kind of competition is out there. I’ll give them enough to get them to semistate, but taking it to the next level is going to require them doing the extras things. If I tell them to do 25 pushups, they need to do 35 pushups. If I tell them to take 10 shots, they need to take 15 shots. If I tell them to run 12 halls, they need to ruin 14 halls. It’s the extra stuff, and it’s the extra stuff at home that does it. I have a lot of hungry young men that just want to do the best that they can do.
“They have taken my challenge, and they have done it. I have a handful of them that just want to go was far as they can go. So, we are just going to ride it out and we are going to see where it takes us.”