Thought to be rebuilding from the ground up after last season, Osan American’s wrestling team is not only showing signs of life — the Cougars could well be on their way to their best season in six years.

The Cougars improved to 3-4 on the Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Korea season, their latest victory coming Saturday at Osan Air Base over the Taegu American Warriors 37-10. But perhaps their most impressive performance to date came in a 34-23 loss to Seoul American — the closest they’ve come to beating the Falcons since their unbeaten 1999-2000 season.

“It’s looking pretty good,” fourth-year coach Charles Tadlock said.

Unlike past years, when his teams only fielded five to six athletes, he has a full lineup this year. Tadlock credits steady recruiting, which got a boost from football coach Tony Alvarado for Osan’s early success.

“I asked him to ask his players to come out and he did, and he and I’ve been talking to kids individually, to show the combined benefits of playing football and wrestling,” Tadlock said.

Tadlock credited Alvarado with getting junior Carlos Albaladejo onto the wrestling team for the first time.

“I’ve been working on [getting him to wrestle] for three years,” Tadlock said of Albaladejo, who played basketball the previous two years. “This year, I think he was interested in trying something different. He’s a natural athlete. He’s built like a wrestler.”

Seoul American coach Julian Harden was full of praise after seeing Albaladejo compete.

“Carlos is going to do well,” Harden said. “He’s a beast. He’s a natural wrestler who should have been on the team all along. Had he been out there, I don’t think anybody could touch him. And some of the other wrestlers are starting to feed off him.”

Coaching continuity and having had success at higher levels also has given the Cougars a boost, Harden said. And with just one senior on the roster, Harden sees a good future for Cougars wrestling.

“I can only imagine they’ll get better and better,” Harden said, pointing to the support Tadlock gets from the community.

Tadlock says the program is moving forward toward Far East with “cautious optimism.”

“We’ve always brought back a few medals, five last year, four the year before,” he said. “I think we’ll bring back six, maybe more. I’m hoping. We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. Anything can happen.”

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