One look around the wrestling room at Sidney High School, and it should be abundantly clear that wrestling is a religion in Sidney.
The names of past champions and the years of championships won listed on the walls are an easy way to see the successful and storied past of the program, but it very much has a big impact on today.
Three state titles for the team precede this season, which is an opportunity to complete a “four-peat” if you will, something that professional sports teams have hardly ever accomplished.
And yet, the Eagles did it in the 2000s (2003-2006) already, so the history the team is currently chasing is not unprecedented.
But what that past represents is the roots for the current success, and at the helm is head coach Guy Melby, who has been in his position for more than 30 years.
Melby said consistency is something the team takes pride in, and the talent that consistently graces the program starts when the wrestlers are kids.
“We’re teaching our kids at a very young age what we’re teaching (high schoolers), so by the time we get them and they’re pretty good. Everybody’s on the same page, everybody gets along,” Melby said.
To emphasize his point, he added that he has known his current wrestlers since they were five.
And Melby and his staff are experienced enough to know when they will be good, just like they knew they were going to be during this four-year stretch.
Each year, too, the message to the team is pretty clear.
“Every year, we talk about winning state titles. Some people just hope they get to state, well that’s not good enough for us. Our outlook is to win,” he said.
Heading the group this season is an outstanding senior class. One such senior, Brody Skogen, said the team is bred to win state titles, and he said that the championship experience this team has helped them and gives them great leadership.
Having all this experience come back this year is huge, Melby added.
“Just the other day we had a practice where seniors took underclassmen and just worked with the for about 20 minutes. They’ve just had some great leadership, maybe not so much verbally, just their actions,” Melby said.
So far this season, the Sidney/Fairview wrestling team has blown out every opponent, and Skogen mentioned another key piece to the team’s success: Work ethic, which Melby said is a relentless work ethic.
Whether it’s doing dynamic stretches or sparring with a partner, Melby said his team doesn’t stop moving at practices. For example, if the team starts at 4:00 p.m., no one is standing or sitting still during the full two hours until 6:00 p.m.
“This crew loves to work. Everybody in this room, with the exception of a couple of them, get up at 6:45 a.m. we lift every morning. All through the summer as well. They love the sport, they love to compete, they thrive off each other,” Melby said.
Aside from a few opponents who managed to tally double-digit scores against Sidney/Fairview, every other opponent has been held to single digits in the final scores against the Eagles.
Right now, the team is sharpening its skills as it continues its path back to the state title.
This team knows exactly who they are and what they are capable of, and as Skogen put it, everyone looks right at the team when they walk in the door to the venue for the day.
The team set the state record with 340 points at state last year, and with how the team looks right now, that number looks pretty good this year too.