Wilman, who has an impeccable wrestling background that includes being a two-time state champion at Harrison High School and four-year starter at West Virginia University before moving into the coaching ranks. Prior to his arrival at Carrollton, Wilman served at McEachern High School, James Madison University and most recently the United States Military Academy at West Point.
And upon inheriting a team that includes four senior starters, a pair of sophomore sensations that won individual state championships last year and a strong mix of young talent sprinkled throughout the rest of the lineup, expectations are at an all-time high for the Trojan program.
Wilman said it’s been a fairly smooth transition in taking over the program from former Carrollton coach Mike Mason, who stepped down at the end of last season, where the Trojans finished third in the Class AAA traditional state tournament.
“I think there are a couple of things that go into that. One, obviously, it’s a transition process walking into a program that is certainly set up and poised to be very talented this year. Then you’re making the transition to the way that myself and coach [Jeff] Sharp and coach [Jamie] Lucas run practices. From an overall standpoint, I’m really trying to change the culture of the program, increase the level of intensity, increase the level of technical proficiency. Those have been really our main goals. And then there’s a huge focus on Carrollton wrestling winning both the traditional state tournament and the dual state tournament,” Wilman said.
Carrollton received a nice shot in the arm with the addition of its football guys this week, a group that saw its first bit of action in a 52-18 win over Paulding County on Tuesday night heading into today’s Carrollton Duals at 9 a.m.
“Within the room, the intensity picked up and there was some continuity between the team. And, obviously, we had leadership with a bunch of those guys. Dan Harris, Turner Martin, Travis Joyce are three seniors coming out from football and back into wrestling. They’re really high-level athletes for our wrestling team. It’s been a different atmosphere in the wrestling room since they’ve been back, and that’s been a great thing for us,” Wilman said.
Along with that trio and fellow senior Chris Foster, Wilman said leadership is certainly a strength for this bunch.
Of course, then you’ve younger guys that have already made their mark in the program with junior Rhett Hembree and sophomores Jake Adcock and Taylor Lujan.
Lujan wrapped up his freshman year at 59-0 with a state championship at 145 pounds, while Adcock went 60-1 — with that lone blemish being a controversial one — earning his state title at 120 pounds. Hembree, a junior, is seeking his first state crown this year after taking second as a freshman and third as a sophomore.
Hembree is projected to wrestle at 132 this winter, with Adcock at 126 and Lujan bumping up to 160. Wilman said all three are tremendous workers and students of the sport, but the Trojan coach noted that Lujan is a spectacle you rarely come across at the high school level.
“He has unmatched technical ability on our team. He’s definitely the guy with the sharpest set of tools in the bag. Taylor brings a wealth of knowledge, great intensity. His work ethic is unmatched ... We look for Taylor to continue on the path that he’s been on, which is dominating his opponents. Taylor’s goals are not to win state titles. His goal is to be a national champion at the high school level, a nationally-ranked wrestler and a guy that receives a scholarship from a major institution,” Wilman said. “He’s definitely our alpha male, as far as the team goes and his wrestling ability.”
As for the quartet of seniors in the starting lineup, Foster (120 lbs.), Martin (145/152 lbs.), Harris (170 lbs.) and Joyce (182 lbs.) are all guys that Wilman believes have the potential to win state titles, as well.
Harris placed fourth last year, while Joyce finished fourth as a freshman and second as a sophomore before missing last season’s tournament due to an injury. And while Foster and Martin didn’t place last season, Wilman is confident both are on the verge of breakout senior campaigns that may surprise some folks on the state scene.
Rounding out the Trojans’ projected lineup is Bryan Johnson (106), Christian Gutierrez (113), Murphy Hagen (195), Stephen Thompson (220) and Cole Glommen (hvy.). The Trojan coach said there are three classes — 138, 145, 152 — that are still somewhat a mystery, with Martin expected to fill either 145 or 152, while the other two are there for the taking at the moment.
And with the move to Class AAAA this year, Wilman expects Alexander, Gilmer and West Laurens to be some of the other top contenders at the state level, though he is confident his own squad has what it takes to win it all, as well.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us. I think from a talent perspective, we’ve got the horses to really elevate ourselves above those guys. I’m not afraid to say that. I think if we wrestle up to our potential, it’s our title to win,” Wilman said.