BOZEMAN — At Bozeman Gallatin High School, former Bozeman High head coach and two-time state champion Nate Laslovich is looking to build the Raptors' program from the ground up.
“We have real tough kids," Laslovich said. "They’re going to be tough, they’re going to brawl. Our coaches are real tough guys. Everybody in here, it’s just that kind of environment, so I don’t have any questions whether or not we're going to be good quick, I think we are. I think these guys are going to be super competitive, I don’t know if that’s this year, next year or the following year -- whatever that looks like, I’m just excited for the way they’re working.”
Coming over from Bozeman High, a 3.3-mile change, it’s been a simple transition given that Laslovich has coached most of the kids before.
“Smooth," said Laslovich of the transition. "They know me, they know my style, they know the other coaches and I think that’s more important, they know all these assistant coaches.”
Speaking of assistant coaches, Hunter Chandler, the Gallatin head football coach, is an assistant for the wrestling team.
“I mean, he’s as good as they come," said Laslovich. "You can't be a better football coach, he’s an outstanding wrestling coach, he’s completely dialed in. Everything logistical, and then recruiting kids, he’s like a kid magnet, everybody loves him. You just can't get a better guy, so I’m just lucky that he’s around and totally lucked out.”
The Raptors head coach knows it will be tough without having seniors on the team, but this season is about establishing the culture.
“You just look for a team environment, team atmosphere, everybody fired up for each other," he said. "Wins and losses come and go, them feeling good and being on a team and being excited about it. Having that culture and not sitting there just thinking about themselves, I think that’s what we want to breed, and then toughness. We’re here and need to get there and you see it, kids every day getting a little better. I think by the end of the year they’ll make some good strides."
The players don't seem too worried about the the lack of upperclassmen at all.
“Might as well go all out," said Gallatin high junior Felix Petersen, who shined at Bozeman the last couple years. "You really have nothing to lose the first year. Coming in with no seniors is going to be a little difficult, but I think we’ll do pretty good.”
The Gallatin wrestlers have already embraced that underdog mentality.
“We’ll be the underdogs," said sophomore Bryce Mikkelson. "Like they say, 'A team with nothing to lose should be feared the most.' We've got nothing to lose and we’re just going to give it our all.”