Diminished by an illness that also swept through other Saratoga High School (SHS) sports teams, the Panthers wrestling program had a disappointing weekend at the Lander Invite. Though senior Thomas Ingraham took home a third-place finish, the other three varsity grapplers for SHS couldn’t place amongst tough 3A and 4A competition at the Jan. 20-21 tournament.
With Ingraham’s third-place finish at Lander, “he put himself right there in terms of being one of the top-two 152-pounders in the State, All-Class,” coach Zach Schmidt said.
Ingraham won five matches, three by pin and one by major decision, scoring 21 team points. His only loss came by decision in the quarterfinals, by an opponent Schmidt predicted would ultimately win the 4A State Title.
“I told (Ingraham) afterwards, ‘Don’t beat yourself up. You have to lose these matches and learn these lessons so that it doesn’t happen Friday or Saturday night in the Event Center (at the State Meet in Casper),’” Schmidt said.
Summing up the weekend for the rest of the team, Schmidt said, “We were flat. We were very flat.”
Jaxon King was the only other Panther to score team points, winning twice by fall and once by decision for 9 points. King lost twice, however, including to an opponent he had beat twice already this season. King missed placing by one spot.
“When (King’s) on bottom he has a tendency to sit-out and then hit a sit-out turn-in with a hook,” Schmidt said. It was a pattern of moves King’s opponent picked up on from his prior matches, and this time he was waiting. “That kid’s smart enough, and his coach is smart enough–they took notes on the last couple matches,” Schmidt recalled. King’s predictability cost him the match.
Trezdon Martinez, representing Saratoga at 120-pounds, started strong his first match, “then it was like he let his foot off the accelerator and (his opponent) took over,” Schmidt recalled. Martinez lost both his matches by pin.
Andrew Everett also had a tough time, though in Schmidt’s view, bad luck was a big factor in the 113-pounder’s results. Everett was also pinned twice, both times by returning State Champions.
On the junior varsity side, Schmidt was encouraged to see Torin Hedley win his first-ever high school match, and was also pleased with Jesse Sandoval’s fourth-place finish.
The coach wants to see more aggressive, dynamic wrestling, though. “It’s a matter of going back to basic finishes,” Schmidt said. “I can’t take any more of these 2-1 matches (by decision).”
Up next, Saratoga will wrestle a dual against Rawlins and Lander 5 p.m. Jan. 26 in Rawlins, then the Panthers will take on Hanna Elk Mountain (HEM) 5 p.m. Jan. 31 at HEM.
“Fear’s got to go. It doesn’t matter what their record looks like, where they wrestle,” Schmidt said. “If we’re not up and ready to go by Thursday, it could be a long rest of the year–and not in a good way.”