Thousand Oaks Wrestling is looking to regain its league title this year after Calabasas finished in first last year. With many talented seniors having graduated from the Coyote’s title-winning-team, the Lancers have an opportunity to become Marmonte League Champions.
“I am very anxious for this year’s squad. We have some great talent in the room right now, and a lot of enthusiasm on the mats,” Head Coach Dennis Ritterbush said. “Our senior leadership is exceptional this year and the squad is working hard to recapture the Marmonte League Title.”
Ritterbush teaches science at Agoura High School and this upcoming season will be his 40th year coaching wrestling. He wrestled while he attended California Lutheran University and stayed in the area after he graduated.
“I was at Agoura for 34 years as the wrestling coach, took one year off as an official coach, but came to TOHS to help out,” Ritterbush said. “I was an assistant coach here four years ago, and am now in my third year as head coach.”
This year’s squad is hungry to get on the mats and for the season to start.
“[The key accomplishments are] hard practices with lots of drills and wrestling. Just more mat time for everyone in general,” junior Blake Sanders said.
Sanders is in his third year on varsity wrestling in the 126 pound division. He saw Calabasas take the league title last year and wants to bring the trophy back home for his junior and senior seasons.
However, he is not the entire team but the mentality stays the same for every single match.
Sanders has a similar goal to a new wrestler: senior Mark Tucker. Tucker transferred this year from Triad High School in Troy, Illinois. He will wrestle in the 182 pound division and 170 pound later in the year.
“I have been wrestling for a long time now, this will be my tenth season. I made it to state finals a few times in middle school and made it onto varsity freshman year,” Tucker said. “A few injuries took me out for parts of seasons though.”
Tucker was welcomed with open arms to his new home at Thousand Oaks High School. The wrestling team helped him find his friend group very easily in addition to his classes with new students.
The team especially makes him feel at home, in and out of school. Coaches like Ritterbush and others give him valuable insight toward the Lancer mindset and style of wrestling.
“I love the coaches and how they each bring different things to the table. I already spend time outside school with a bunch of the guys,” Tucker said.
This year, the Lancers hope to make CIF and make a deep run into the playoffs. With the right attitude and mental toughness as well as physical toughness, they could be serious title contenders. Enough exposure in CIF could even send a couple wrestlers to state playoffs, if not the entire team.
Like any other high school team, our wrestlers have traditions of their own. Some of them can be seen in the halls and in the locker rooms, but the sense of pride is always present and never wavering on the mats each and every season.
One example of the Lancer Pride shown by the team is the tradition of bleached hair once CIF playoffs begin in the Spring.
“Usually most of the guys on the team bleach their hair, but I have never actually done it,” Sanders said.
With a deep CIF run in mind for the squad, bleached hair may be around for a long period of time this Spring.