The Ronan wrestling program will move up in classification from Class B to Class A and will also have a new head coach but they aren’t necessarily a team in transition.
The Chiefs will also switch head coaches. Brian Muir was the coach of the 2016-2017 season and will be replaced by Dylan Kramer, a recent Western Montana University graduate. He will inherit a team that had six individual wrestlers that were state-placers last year and on a team that placed third at the Montana High School Activities Association Class B wrestling tournament at Billings.
Kramer said he understands that moving up from Class B to Class A will initially be a challenge. The Chiefs will move into a conference that has Polson, Columbia Falls and Libby. All three of these teams will feature several individuals that will compete for an individual state championship.
The conference schedule for the Chiefs will be tougher but in wrestling, unlike in football and volleyball, the transition to classifications won’t be as dramatic because wrestling competes with all classifications, unlike other sports.
“Any time you move up a class and have a new head coach, it is going to take a little bit to get used to (all of the changes),” Kramer said. “The Owen Invitational will be a good test to see where we are at. I still have to get used to the kids and the kids have to get used to me.”
Kramer was an assistant coach for Beaverhead County High School while going to school at Western Montana University for four years. He said he was able to learn quite a bit about the technical aspects of being a coach.
“(At Dillon) I was able to learn quite a bit about how to run practices and teach techniques,” Kramer said. “I was able to break it down as much as I could so the kids could understand. I had to learn about talking to the administration, coordinating time travel, hotels and all of the other aspects of being a head coach.”
Kramer said he felt he is prepared for his first-ever coaching gig.
“I think I was pretty well prepared and there are a lot of different of levels of kids, athletic abilities and different ages,” Kramer said. “I am pretty lucky to have the coaching staff that I do with Hap Cheff, who has coached these kids since they were little, and Monty Cheff. Both have been more than willing to help me out.”
Kramer said he felt the change in classifications wont’ be “as extreme of a transition” for Ronan as it was in volleyball and football.
“We see kids in Class A, B, and double AA and our wrestlers will see some of the toughest kids all season,” Kramer said.
Ronan will have several returning wrestlers that will allow them to compete immediately in their new conference.
The Chiefs will return Noah Cheff, Hunter Peterson, Zane Walchuk, Owen Brown and Sam Mockabee. They are all wrestlers that will return from state.
Wrestling is a unique sport because there is an individual and team aspect that has to be balanced in order for the collective group to be successful.
“Wrestling is a little different because there is an individual and team aspect as far as the dual and full lineup,” Kramer said. “There are many tough kids in each weight class and we should be able to find success in duals and tournaments as well.”
Kramer said he will still feel out his team’s strengths and weakness as he anticipates having a strong freshman and sophomore team.
“We will have a lot better wresters that are down at the lower weights and we will be two or three deep between the 120-138-pound weight class,” Kramer said. “Our depth will always help out at tournament time and we will have two people scoring at each weight, especially in Divisionals. I think we are seeing more of our strengths as a team and we will be solid in several positions. We will find our weaknesses when we actually get out there and are put to the test. That will be very important.”