Friday kicks off the wrestling season for the Basehor-Linwood Bobcats in Jason Puderbaugh’s second season as head coach.

Puderbaugh said he and the staff are excited to take on the challenge of developing the young team and coaching the new wrestlers. He said practices have been “fun” so far.

“(Practices) have been fun with lots of new faces in the room and young guys ready to practice and bring the heat each day,” Purderbaugh said. 

The thing that the coach is looking forward to most is the challenge of the season.

“Each season brings new challenges,” He said. “Experienced guys to sharpen and young guys to mold. Most of all, I love the thrill of competition and the daily workouts in the room.”

The Bobcats’ returners will be headlined by Kaden Jacobson, who is coming off of a 38-8 record last season and a fifth-place finish at 4A state. Drake Parkinson was a state qualifier last season. Other returners include Colyn Lucas, Victor Bejarano, Zach Radefeld, Hunter Parish and Joshua Willcutt.

Some of the anticipated newcomers include Triston Owen, Alex Radefeld, Austin Coulson, Cohen Suchy, Luke Jennings and Zane Kincaid. 

Along with some newcomers, the Bobcats will find themselves in new territory. Basehor-Linwood joined the new United Kansas Conference this season. Purderbaugh said not much will change with the new conference. 

“Not a whole lot (changes),” he said. “Running the same format at the league tourney, still have tough competition and number of schools. We are excited about the new league and tough competitors.”

Along with the UKC, the Bobcats also jumped up to 5A this season. As a Seaman High School graduate, Puderbaugh is excited to be back in Wichita for the state tournament. 

“Excited to get back to Wichita for state,” he said. “I graduated from Seaman High School, also 5A. So we will be competing against some of the old schools I used to face in my competition days. Looking forward to the super regional and facing, in my opinion, some of the toughest wrestling programs in the state in all classes in 5A like Goddard, Ark City and more.”

The season starts one week after Thanksgiving. Purderbaugh said the holiday does not cause a challenge with making weight, but it is one of the many challenges that comes with the start of the year. 

“Hard to get into a rhythm this early in the season because of football overlapping into the wrestling season, Thanksgiving break, snow days and so few of practices to get the guys into wrestling condition and get them into season form technically,” he said.

He said a championship mindset will be one of the keys to success this season.

“Keys to success will be developing a championship mindset,” Puderbaugh said. “Mastering the fundamentals of the sport, having a consistent commitment, enjoyment and appreciation for the process, ‘Win each day, and keep the end in mind.’”

Puderbaugh also said he loves helping the team grow into strong student-athletes.

“I love helping kids mature and grow into strong young student-athletes,” he said. “It’s a process that takes patience and hard work and I love the challenge. Every day I know that myself and my assistant coaches are making a positive difference in the lives of these young wrestlers and I am blessed to have such great coaches and administration to work with.”

The Bobcats begin their season Friday at Spring Hill. The tournament begins at 2 p.m.