The Bishop Ryan Lions wrestling program has a always had deep tradition that has produced its share of state champions. But in recent years the Lions have struggled to compete on both the undivided and team front. Now it seems the team is back on track.
Tonight Derek Hackett introduces us to the Lion's "Mane" reason for a resurgence to the top of their region.
In High school wrestling, Bishop Ryan was once considered the "King of the Jungle".
In 2003 they had nine wrestlers place at state.
but since then, the Lion's somehow lost their bite.
"Chase Lee - "Those were very lean years when I started. Grades 7 through 12 we had MAYBE 15 kids in here."
Chase took over the program in 2008. In his first two years the Lion's dual record was 5 and 14. The program was in pieces, small numbers on the mat knocked the Lions off their pedestal. but in the past two years something changed. Chase turned a handful of kids into a pride of Lions.
"Tyler Allers "When I came in it wasn't much of a family, like it is now. Myself and other kids in my grade came up with coach Chase and have built up each year and get more kids in the room"
Adding depth helped turn the team around. This year the Lions are 12 and 0- with just one more dual to go. But the true stabilizing force is more likely consistent leadership in the pack.
(Chase) "if you look at where our program was. Really what hurt it was we didn't have anybody on staff that was here everyday and was the wrestling coach to recruit."
Chase is at the school---everyday as a teacher--then every night he's pacing the mat like an alpha lion watching the cubs--and he almost has the Lions where they'd like to be.
(Chase) " We're close, very close. We're not quite there. But I think within a couple years we'll be right back where we should be..."
And that's back on top...as king of the jungle.
Before the Lions can wear the crown--they'll have to prove themselves one last time this weekend in the Region 3 team tournament in Velva.