VCHS wrestlers riding wave of school tradition

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Our Opinion

By Dave Bell

The single-word headline on today’s sports page says it all: “Tradition.”
Webster’s Dictionary defines the word as: “A long-established custom or practice that has the effect of an unwritten law…a story, belief or custom handed down from generation to generation.”
And so it is with the Vandalia wrestling program. For the past 20 years, athletes have felt the expectations of those who have gone before them. They have watched older wrestlers strive and succeed. They have adopted the work ethic and the determination that have made others great – and now they are seeing the payoff.
The lead picture on today’s sports page shows the team holding high its 20th consecutive regional championship plaque. That’s an amazing accomplishment. But there’s another picture of the team on page 6B that clearly shows the power of tradition. That picture shows the current team, surrounded by a crowd of former wrestlers. Those older athletes are among those who established the standard of excellence here, and it’s clear that they are excited about the way the current team is  upholding that standard.
We applaud the coaches who have established and nurtured that tradition, starting with Russell Hewitt, and including Glenn Exton (who ignited the program two decades ago) and his former student, Jason Clay (who eight years ago took the helm of the program when Exton moved to O'Fallon).
We wish the wrestlers well as they head to sectional competition this weekend and state the next. No doubt, the tradition behind the local program will propel them to greater success than they could achieve on their own.