Late-arriving wrestling mats over winter break made for a slow start for the Saratoga High School wrestling team at the Shane Shatto Invite Jan. 6 and 7 in Cheyenne. Representing Saratoga at the varsity level were junior Jaxon King and senior Thomas Ingraham, who both grappled well enough to be in contention during both days of the tournament but finished farther back than they’d aimed for.
According to coach Zach Schmidt, Ingraham ended up taking fourth, while King lost in the consolation quarters, keeping him one win off of being one of the top six placers.
Schmidt said that at the prestigious competition, “it’s not quite survival, but you’ve got to find your way to Saturday to give yourself a chance. Both (King) and (Ingraham) did that.” Still, the results weren’t quite what the Panthers were hoping for.
“I told (Ingraham) afterwards, ‘We’ve got to learn from this,’” Schmidt said.
According to Schmidt, one of the weekend’s big lessons is the importance of figuring out how to pin opponents rather than simply outscoring them over six long, tiring minutes.
“We need to close out matches. We’re wrestling a lot of 5-4 matches and 4-3 matches, giving coach anxiety,” Schmidt said. Aside from aggravating Schmidt’s frayed nerves, over the course of a weekend tournament, multiple point decisions like that can leave athletes depleted and the team gaining less total points, Schmidt said. “That’s hard on your body (and) hard on your mental state,” he noted.
Going so deep into matches took an even larger toll because, Schmidt said, “Conditioning-wise, we looked a little bit slower.” According to him, not having access to wrestling mats over the holidays held the Panthers back, but now the team is returning to the regular season groove.
Schmidt also had some good news from the junior varsity, where he said sophomore Trezdon Martinez “made huge leaps,” at the Shatto, winning a varsity showing next tournament. That next tournament will be the Don Runner Invite, Jan. 13 and 14 in Pavillion, Wyo.