DERBY >> There’s been a simple formula for the Derby wrestling program, not only this year but throughout veteran coach Buster Jadach’s tenure.
“Hard work,” said Jadach, who has compiled a state-record 557 wins since becoming head coach at the start of the 1980-1981 season. “We don’t have the best athletes, we don’t have the strongest kids. We try to do it with conditioning and hard work. The practices are geared that way. Hopefully with that the cream rises to the top and some of the kids see that success and build off of it.”
Under Jadach’s guidance and direction, the Red Raiders are in the midst of another successful season. Derby has posted an 11-2 dual-meet record. In addition, the Red Raiders won at the Valley of Champions tournament, took second place at their own invitational and finished third at both the Glastonbury Duals and the Lawless Tournament.
Derby’s accomplished what it has with about just 20 wrestlers on the roster. But that number doesn’t necessarily mean the Red Raiders lack depth.
“We’re filling the weight classes, which is unbelievable,” Jadach said. “A lot of the teams I’ve seen this year are having a hard time doing that. We’re lucky with having kids that are able to fit in here or there. We’ve got the bodies to be able to do that.”
This year’s edition is a tight-knit group. Jadach said the leadership of captains Tyler Dobek (132 pounds), Ryan Landona (138) and Josh Russell (113) has been invaluable.
“The seniors, the ones that have been together, know what it’s all about,” Jadach said. “They work together as a group and get everybody else involved.”
“Definitely the teamwork,” said Dobek when asked what’s allowed Derby to be successful this season. “Everyone helps each other get better. Everyone is working together to do their best.”
The captains all wrestled together for the Derby Renegade youth program, which has been run by Jadach’s daughter, Sarah, for more than 10 years. Sarah’s also been the state chairperson for USA Wrestling for the past five years.
“The youth program has grown a lot since I started wrestling,” Dobek said.
Derby’s youth program is open to students in kindergarten through eighth grade. The program participates in two tournaments per weekend and most wrestlers compete in four matches per tournament.
“The experience they get at the tournaments (is most vital),” Sarah Jadach said. “The more you’re on the mat, the more you learn.”
Dobek, who set a school-record for receptions during this past football season, said he started with the youth program five years ago and quickly developed a passion for the sport.
“It was something I liked right away,” Dobek said. “It was just a lot of fun; something new. Wrestling is one of the toughest and most fulfilling sports.”
The experience gained with the youth program has helped position the Derby wrestlers, especially the seniors, as contenders for this year’s Class S championship meet, to be held on Feb. 22. Dobek, who finished second in Class S at 120, is 12-1 this season. Russell, the runner-up at 106 in Class S last year, is 11-2, and Landona is 9-4.
Buster Jadach believe his team should compete for the Class S title along with Montville, Nonnewaug, Oxford, Terryville and defending champion Windham.
“We’re up there,” Jadach said. “There’s about four or five teams in the mix. It’s about who’s on that day, who is ready. Things have to go your way, too. We’ll see what happens. We’re building from now to then. We’re not really thinking of the states yet, we have another two, three weeks before that, but we feel we should be in the mix.”