Nick Turner is embracing the storied history of Shawnee High School wrestling.
The new Wolves' head coach understands the importance of the program from the contributions of the Ray and Mary Jo Stucker Family to Hall of Fame coaches such as Mark Leen and Mike Henry.
“I'm excited about the tradition of such a storied program,” said Turner. “Some might cower stepping into this role, but I'm excited about the challenge, to rise to the occasion and emulate those things of the past.”
Turner feels like he has gotten off on the right foot already with the addition of another former successful SHS head wrestling coach in Jeff Chamblin as an assistant on this year's staff.
“It's a great asset to have Jeff Chamblin in the (workout) room,” Turner said.
Turner brings an impressive resume to the position. He was a three-time NAIA All-American for Oklahoma City University and was a national runner-up at 157 pounds his senior year in 2012. He finished fifth at nationals as a junior and sixth as a sophomore.
He spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach at Norman North High School while also conducting a wrestling club. He also had a junior high coaching stint in Edmond and spent a couple of years coaching in Blanchard.
Shawnee welcomes back only one returning state qualifier in junior Jordan Lomeli, who competed at 120 pounds last season but is expected to wrestle at 132 this year.
“Last season, Jordan was banged up. It was amazing that he even qualified for state,” said Turner. “He has a lot of drive and is very, very hungry, having that itch to get to the season. He has a big skill set and is long, lanky and strong. Jordan is always doing the right thing and getting that extra rep.”
The Wolves' only senior is Jose Cervantes at 138 pounds.
“He's a leader by example and is one of the hardest workers. He's a dude who has a gas tank full for days and he doesn't show signs of weaknesses,” Turner said.
With the return of Lomeli, Turner is also excited about the remainder of his junior class, including Angelo Reyes at 126 pounds, Kyle Helie at 182, Aidan McAlester at 160, Cade Chamblin at 152 and Brenner James at 113.
“We've got a strong group of juniors,” said Turner. “Angelo is a vocal leader and a team captain, who always works hard and will call others out if they are slacking. He holds everyone accountable, including himself. He's a great asset with a very strong skill set.
“Kyle is a very diverse wrestler. He can go at your upper body or lower body. We expect great things out of him this season. With Aidan, we expect this to be a coming out year by a great team guy. He is long, lanky, but is still strong with explosiveness and quickness. He just needs to find his confidence and when he does, the sky is the limit.”
Chamblin, son of Jeff, and James, son of another former SHS coach Larry James, are expected to make impacts at 152 and 113 pounds respectively.
“They have been working hard. We expect a coming out year for them and look forward to seeing great things out of them,” said Turner.
Turner is already seeing leadership qualities out of the sophomore class, including Spencer Rochelle at 145 pounds.
“Spencer has been leading by example and has been a vocal leader. What he doesn't have he makes up for with tenacity and work ethic. We're looking for him to surprise a lot of people this year,” Turner said.
Another sophomore, Sam Anderson, is a prime candidate to wrestle at 170 pounds.
“Sam is a big, strong, hard-nosed farm boy who likes to work hard and is very physical. He blends in with my style,” said Turner. “He's heavy with hand-fight and likes to get after people and wear people down. He hasn't wrestled that long. He competed in a cadet freestyle national tournament in Fargo, North Dakota. He's starting to sharpen up his skills. We think we can get him polished up by February.”
Three freshmen – Logan Cash (195 pounds), Christien Taylor (106) and Mason McPherson (120) – could make a splash this season, according to Turner.
“Christien is pretty talented and starting to clean things up,” Turner said. “Mason and Logan have the opportunity for the starting lineup. Both have been working hard and we just got Logan from football.”
Turner's optimism for the program abounds because of the support he has received so far, along with the soon-to-be opened new Stucker Wrestling Complex on the SHS campus.
“There is great tradition in this town. I love this community and have felt embraced by this community. I work with these guys and they don't complain, I think that's a recipe for success,” said Turner. “I'm excited to be in a new facility soon. That's a great thing about the Stucker Family and their legacy in which they built the program from the ground up.”
NOTES: The Wolves will be competing in Class 5A for regionals and state but in 6A for state duals. Their four-team dual district includes Tulsa Union, Jenks and Enid. Shawnee opens the regular season at home with a dual on Dec. 5 against Mustang.