High school wrestling: Putnam North has its best team in several years
After several .500-at-best seasons, the Panthers are making noise again on the wrestling scene.
Putnam City North is enjoying its best start in wrestling coach Mitch Brinlee's 12-year tenure at the school.
The Panthers won their first five duals of the season before losing last week to Midwest City in a match where Putnam North didn't have three of its starters.
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Two wrestlers couldn't make weight for the first match since the holiday break and another starter was held out for missing practice.
Putnam North also finished second to Del City in the Putnam City Invitational earlier this season, placing nine of the 10 wrestlers the Panthers took to the tournament and crowning one champion, junior Michael McClish.
“It's been a lot more fun this year,” Brinlee said.
Last season, Putnam North only won three duals, including one where the victory was mostly the result of forfeits by the other squad.
Senior Ryan Hall said the difference this season is attitude.
“We are more of team,” Hall said. “Last year, we had group of people doing their own thing. Now, the atmosphere in the room is more like a wrestling team. You have teammates pushing each other to do better. We work harder in the room.”
“PC North used to be really good in wrestling and just fell off. We want to bring that back.”
In recent years, Putnam North has been at best a .500 squad, but Brinlee believes this year's team has at least six wrestlers with a legitimate chance to qualify for the state tournament.
“That hasn't happened here in a long time,” Brinlee said.
Putnam North has put some outstanding individual wrestlers on the mat in the past, but this year's lineup is Brinlee's best since his second year at the school when the Panthers were 9-1 in duals.
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