Rebuilding Wrestling

When Drew Lilledahl was hired to coach the Parkway Central wrestling program in the 2021-2022 year it was of quick notice, getting hired 2 days before the season started. Lilledahl, a former collegiate wrestler and a decorated coach, was 17 years removed from high-school coaching and was tasked with leading a small program of 3 wrestlers. Despite the small team in 2021-2022, the team expanded greatly in the 2022-2023 season more than doubling in size. 

“I don’t think the word was really out, I was hired really late and I don’t think kids wanted to be a part of something they didn’t know anything about,” Lilledahl said. 

Overall, The expanded roster has played a massive impact in the improvement of the team’s culture 

“The energy is completely different this year, and we can actually win duel meets sometimes because we don’t have to forfeit so many matches,” said Junior Captain Evan Weingart. 

Weingart, one of two returning wrestlers from last season has made a massive impact on the team. 

“He’s just a hard-working kid who takes advantage of his opportunities, does what every coach wants, and Evan is a great leader, he leads by example and is a great example of our mantra which is to show up and try,” said Lilledahl. 

With a larger roster and more experience, Weingart has high expectations for this season. 

“I hope we just keep on improving and doing good and hopefully get a full varsity lineup that goes to districts this year and I hope we get at least a few people to make it to state. My goal this year is to make state and maybe even win a couple of rounds,” said Weingart. 

In addition to having high expectations for the season, Weingart also is changing his Wrestling style. 

“I used to be more passive when I didn’t know many moves, I would just wait for them to react but this year, I’m trying to assert my will on them,” said Weingart. 

Although there are more boys than girls on the team, Lilledahl is interested in growing interest in the girls’ program as much as the boys. 

“Tough knows no gender, I want to build the girls’ program because women’s wrestling is one of the fastest-growing sports in the country,” said Lilledahl. 

The team in spite of being comprised of primarily first-year wrestlers has made great strides. 

“Normandy destroyed us last year 42 to 30, however, this year our best wrestler Evan, had a Normandy guy in a hold, and if he pinned him it ties 36-36. We got a lot better from last year to this year and I feel like this program is gonna do nothing but grow and get more kids out,” said Lilledahl. 

Along with the team having success Winegart has also had individual success.

“My record is 11-3, I have won most of my matches except a few,” Weingart said. 

All in all, Lilledahl has enjoyed his time coaching at Parkway Central and is grateful for his 17 years in the making, return to the high school level. 

“It is a just bunch of red-blooded kids from all different ethnicities that want to come and scrap and I love it. When we have kids who say colts on me colts on three we’re building a culture that is unlike anything else and we’re re-installing the greatness that once was colt wrestling,” said Lilledahl.