Wrestling coop between Rantoul, PBL given green light

RANTOUL —  The Rantoul Township High School board approved an agreement at its meeting on Monday to form a wrestling co-op with Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School.
“We have some very talented wrestlers who do well individually, but we lose so many team points because of a lack of numbers. It is hard to win meets as a team,” RTHS Superintendent Scott Amerio said.
During the 2017-2018 season, neither school had enough wrestlers for the full roster of 14 wrestlers required to compete in all the weight classes, according to a report distributed to the school board.
In addition to enhancing chances for team success, RTHS Athletic Director Travis Flesner said the co-op will provide younger, less experienced wrestlers time to develop before they compete at the varsity level.
“Currently, we have to put freshmen in varsity matches when their skills might not be ready for that level. In a co-op, you add numbers and with that, the ability to divide up skill levels,” Flesner said. “With our two schools, we may not be able to have a JV and varsity, but we will be able to allow the less skilled, younger wrestlers time to develop while we still can be close to fielding a full varsity team.”
Under the terms of the agreement, RTHS will hire the head coach and PBL the assistant coach. Rantoul will host practices and most of the home meets. Entry fees will be shared equally unless there is a significant disparity in the number of wrestlers attending a tournament. Transportation costs will be shared equally also. Each school is responsible for headgear and other equipment for their wrestlers.
Wrestlers will wear their own school uniforms for the 2018-2019 season. If the co-op is considered successful at the end of the year, a co-op uniform may be considered. The co-op team name will be RTHS-PBL.
After school board approval, conference approval and IHSA approval must be obtained.
RTHS and PBL already have a co-op in place for golf. RTHS Athletic Director Travis Flesner said the success of that co-op made it easier to consider a second co-op. Amerio agreed.
“I think what has contributed to the success of the co-op is the flexibility of both school districts and the desire to do what is best for our students,” Amerio said.
Board member Jeremy Larson said, “I think it is a great opportunity for both schools to continue in a sport that both schools seem to excel at.”
At a meeting held last Wednesday, the Paxton-Buckley-Loda school board approved a high school wrestling coop with Rantoul at Wednesday’s meeting.
The coop was approved by the PBL school board by a vote of 6-0.
PBL head wrestling coach Ronney completed his seventh season as the Panthers’ head coach last winter.
“It’s been wonderful. With everyone who comes out and sticks through the whole season, I was able to see progress. I just wish we were able to maintain four-year athletes for the sport,” Ronney said. “It’s unfortunate, but hopefully with this merge, we’ll start doing a little bit more and have some success. In the years to come, hopefully it’ll help us have a larger group of guys and girls come out.”
Ronney said he spoke with Rantoul head coach Mark McCusker earlier in the season when a coop was first discussed.
“We both agreed that, if we did end up with a coop, it would help our teams have a full lineup because we both have spots that we need to fill,” Ronney said. “It definitely will help improve us.”
Ronney said he still plans on being involved in the coop as a coach, perhaps as a co-head coach along with McCusker.
“I don’t see either one of us stepping down from the position just because of the coop,” Ronney said.
Ronney said he plans on holding a meeting with his wrestlers on Tuesday.
“I’m just looking forward to seeing what they say on Monday, and we’ll probably have a little bit more understanding once I have a talk with my wrestlers and talk to coach (McCusker) as well and see what we can set up over the summer,” Ronney said.
-- Andrew Rosten contributed to this report
Categories (3):Prep Sports, Wrestling, Sports


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