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High School Sports

December 2, 2008

Empire young, eager to learn

EMPIRE — EMPIRE — Looking at the state of the Empire wrestling program, first-year head coach Derrick Myers understands he has his work cut out for him. But his passion for the sport gives him the resolve needed.

With only six slated to compete at the varsity level, the Bulldogs will mostly be confined to tournaments this season as they wait for reinforcements from the junior high level in the coming years. Empire is suiting up a full junior high team this season and will look to build confidence at that level.

“I want to get the kids throughout the school interested in wrestling,” Myers said. “We could bring some freshmen up but because we are trying to build up the program, we will keep them in junior high so that they can enjoy some success.

“I knew the high school team was in this shape, but I thought with my background, I could have success. Wrestling is my passion.”

Myers was a state champion at Comanche and wrestled for Oklahoma State before transferring to play football at the University of Oklahoma.

He will be able to use his background as a heavyweight wrestler to help mold senior heavyweight Chad Baxter. Baxter is relatively inexperienced but should benefit from the hands-on training that Myers will provide.

Brandon Salazar will suit out at 189. The junior did not wrestle last season but enters the season in good physical condition. Sophomore Tyler Earls will wrestle at 171 and is also inexperienced but has proven to be coachable in preseason workouts.

Junior Cody James may be Empire’s most experienced wrestler at 160, and sophomore Geoff Jones will give the Bulldogs energy at 140.

Because of its numbers, Empire will be limited to tournaments except for the district dual meet at Comanche this season.

“As individuals, I think we can have some success if they pick up on my style of wrestling,” Myers said. “If so, I think a couple of them could sneak into the state tournament.”

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