In 2009, when Coach Tom Beuglas stepped down to begin the wrestling program over at Archer High School, the Panthers took a hit.
After being a powerhouse player in the 1990s and 2000s, placing in the top 5 of state 12 of the 16 years Beuglas was there, the Parkview High wrestling program hasn't done that since.
Coach Joshua Porter, who is now in his second season with the Panthers, wants to change that -- bring the team back to its former glory. His goal this year: to be in the top 5 of the state.
"I got hired to bring it back to where it was -- winning state titles, and that's what I plan on doing," he said, while driving in his car on a rare day away from his players.
"I believe that we could have up to five state placers this year if everything goes as it should. The kids work too hard not to have good things happen to them."
The season officially starts Oct. 29. And, behind Porter is a team of dedicated players, including five of them who are returning seniors. Last year, the team only had two.
There also have been area champions, and that's something else the Panthers can be proud of. Seven of the members went to nationals this past year, as well.
But, they want more to sink their claws into.
Team captain Khalil Shakur believes this is their year. He's 18, and headed to college where he plans to wrestle and a great state finish would be just the linchpin needed.
The players are motivated, they work hard, and there are enough seniors to provide some guidance, he said.
"I think we have a really solid chance to win a state tournament," boasts Shakur, who's brother Kamaal is also on the team.
"Coach Porter, he's amazing," he added. "He can take any wrestler and make him a champion."
His brother, for one, became an All-American this past year.
"I tell my kids that we work harder than just about anybody in the state, and nobody is going to out work us as far as conditioning wise and strength wise," Porter said.
Curtis Dean, whose son Zak Dean wrestles for the team, has the same faith in the team as its coach and its players.
Perhaps football does get most of the attention at Parkview, but for wrestling "once your sucked in, you're in," Dean said.
As the booster club president, he's happy to say that there's been growing parental involvement, right alongside the growing team confidence. It's part of the reason he's working hard to help the team raise money for an upcoming away tournament in California.
"We're still a relatively young team, but I think there's going to be a turning of the corner where we start winning tournaments," he said. "We're still not where we want to be, but we're definitely building on the right path."
Porter wants the best for his players -- on and off the mat. He wants the community to see how hard the team is working, how dedicated the student athletes are.
It makes a big difference when you're talking wins.
"I feel there is no better sport than the sport of wrestling: It’s the oldest and the greatest sport," he said.
But, his players: "I can't say enough about how proud I am of the kids."
For more information:
To learn more about the Parkview High wrestling team, including upcoming fundraisers and other ways to get involved, email the team at email@example.com.
Also, check out the team's website by clicking here.