Names of district champions, state placers and college all-Americans adorn the walls of the Lebanon High School mat room, and underneath them, 14 students grappled last week during 6 a.m. practices.
The wrestlers spent three weeks preparing for a Nevada tournament.
“We have to outwork people. That’s not just working hard in the season. You have to put the extra time in,” said coach Michael Cox.
Cody Kleint, who will be a senior, said that Cox is always talking about “the board” during practice.
“Those names are going to be up there forever,” said Kleint, who competed at state last school year.
“You want your name on the board, so you have to push yourself,” he added.
Plenty of names on the board will be back in town on July 15, as Cox has organized an all-classes Lebanon High School wrestling team reunion. Anyone who has participated in the program at any time, including wrestlers, coaches, stat keepers, parents and boosters, is welcome to attend.
The reunion is a way for teammates who haven’t seen each other in years to get together, but it’s also a celebration of the team, which started in 1949.
“Lebanon’s got some pretty serious wrestling history, and it’s more than most people realize,” said former coach Jim Phillips, one of nine individuals the program has sent to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
The Lebanon Wrestling Reunion starts with a tour of the high school at 11 a.m. followed by a catered barbecue lunch at noon at River Park, 1235 E. Grant St. The Lebanon Mat Club is providing the lunch, but donations will be accepted.
Cox hopes that about 200 people come to the event, and said that he probably has RSVPs from 150 former wrestlers.
Many old-timers from the 1960s and 1970s have indicated they’ll be there, Cox said. “There’s a guy who graduated in ’52 who emailed me,” Cox said.
Through the years, names on the board have inspired younger generations. When Cox was in middle school, he said he looked up to Phillips’ son Fred Phillips, now the coach at Pendleton High School.
Many of the wrestlers on the current team, including Kleint, had assistant coach Craig Trask, a 2010 graduate, as a role model.
To RSVP for the Lebanon Wrestling Reunion, call or text Cox at 503-680-1215 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.