The inaugural season for the Otero Junior College wrestling team is finally here as the Rattlers opened at the Wyoming Cowboy Invitational.

The inaugural season for the Otero Junior College wrestling team is finally here as the Rattlers opened at the Wyoming Cowboy Invitational.

OJC coach Chris Hacker said that the Rattlers are looking forward to getting the season started.

"It's electric," Hacker said. "It's exciting, it's so new to everyone. Everyone is coming in here for the first time together. We have guys from all the way from Florida to Arizona, to Oklahoma, Colorado and even New Mexico. So all of these guys coming together and working as one, it's been a great process to see. These guys train and work together. It's really exciting going into our first competition this weekend."

The Rattlers had a really good recruiting class which includes several wrestlers who were state champions.

"This year, we brought in 52 guys," Hacker said. "Ten of those guys were state champs and I believe seven of them were multiple-time state champs. We have one guy who was a four-time state champ and we have a few two-timers. We got fortunate that we found the right guys. I guess time will tell if we got the right guys, but we have some tough guys coming in and we had wrestle-offs and had a few surprises. We're pumped about it."

Hacker said there is a lot of competition to get in all 10 spots on the team.

"Right now we have around 50 guys and only 10 spots," Hacker said. "We have two guys at each spot who can compete, so we have 20 for 10 spots right now. So they're competing hard every day to maintain that spot or gain that spot."

The Rattlers will be competing in the National Junior College Athletic Association Rocky Mountain District, which also includes Northeastern Junior College, Northwest (Wyo.) College, Northwest Kansas Tech College and Western Wyoming Community College.

"We just got the rankings out and there's only two All-Americans in the district and we have one of them," Hacker said. "We have a returning All-American at 141 pounds in Downey Wood, who is a transfer from Pratt (Kan.) Community College. He's actually a Colorado guy. The other guy is at Western Wyoming and he's a 125-pounder who is ranked No. 1 in the whole NJCAA. It looks to be tough. We won't really know too much about it until second semester whenever we see eligibility and we see how these teams are coming out in January and February."

Hacker said that the Rattlers are setting the bar high this season.

"The goal is to get 10 qualifiers for nationals and 10 national champs," Hacker said. "I'm a believer that it's not too far attainable and we want to have 10 national qualifiers, 10 All-Americans and we want those 10 All-Americans to be national champs. That's our goal. We set a high standard here and we believe that we can get it done."

The Rattlers will have three home dual meets this season. They will host Northeastern on Nov. 16, Northwest Kansas Tech on Nov. 22 and Western Wyoming on Jan 20.