DALLAS — Tony Olliff has been around long enough to know that it takes something special to wrestle for him, or for anyone.
So, as much as he’d probably like to have a huge turnout for the sport at Dallas High, he realizes it’s not for everyone.
“I’d like to think that when you’re trying to be the best wrestler you can be you’re going to find out how hard you can push yourself,” said Olliff, who is in his third decade coaching the sport at Dallas. “Usually we only have maybe 30 people who are willing to answer that question about themselves.”
The turnout is good this year. Early workouts had 55 in the mat room.
“I have the utmost respect for the young men and women who decide to wrestle,” Olliff said. “I never beg people to wrestle, because I know what it takes. It’s harder than any other sport.”
Wrestling is back for a full season in its usual winter spot, after a disjointed 2021 earlier this year.
And the Dragons will get right to it. The first day that competition is allowed is Wednesday, Dec. 1, and Dallas will wrestle that day at the Weisbrodt Invitational in Lebanon. Other teams lined up for the tournament are Cascade, Corvallis, Crescent Valley, McKay, South Albany, Stayton, Sweet Home, Tigard, West Albany, Woodburn and host Lebanon.
The Dragons will be in another tournament on Dec. 4, joining Central, Lebanon, Newport, Siuslaw and host Cascade.
Dual meets are important in the Mid-Willamette Conference, and the third Dallas meet this season is the Dragons’ first dual and league match. It’s against Central, Dec. 8 at Dallas.
Everything leads up to the district tournament Feb. 11-12 at Salem Armory, and then the state meet Feb. 25-26 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Last season, Dallas had three wrestlers get to state.
Jose Romero, now a sophomore, was fourth at 126 pounds and is back to bolster the lighter weights.
“A quiet leader,” Olliff said.
Emiliano Rocha was one match from placing at 220 pounds last season, as was Garrett Munkers at 285. They are juniors now.
Before the pandemic season of 2021, the Dragons had Isaac Jones place fifth in state as a 113-pound freshman.
Girls wrestling is part of the program at Dallas, too. And the Dragons have three promising freshmen in Polly Olliff, Ivy McIntosh and Ah Pymm McDaniel, who also excelled as first-year high school cross-country runners, leading Dallas to state in that sport and a 10th-place finish in Class 5A.
Those three will spread their potential scoring power out, with McDaniel likely to compete at 106, Olliff probably going at 112 and McIntosh gearing up for 119.
The girls will have a big two days at Dallas on Jan. 22-23, when the school plays host to a tournament only for female wrestlers.