Dominance in December

Panther wrestling coach looks to keep lead grapplers engaged after easy wins

 

Max Miller

Sophomore Trezdon Martinez arches out of trouble in his first bout.

"Coach Stockwell looked at me at some point last night and said, 'You know how many in a row we've won, right?'" That's Saratoga Panthers wrestling coach Zack Schmidt, remembering a conversation he'd had with assistant coach Tom Stockwell Dec. 15 at the Saratoga-hosted Quadrangular Invite. The Panthers enjoyed a dominant evening against grapplers from high schools in Laramie, Rawlins, Walden and Hanna, winning 10 of their 15 matches that evening.

Schmidt had praise all-around for his team, but was especially effusive about senior star Thomas Ingraham and junior stand-out Jaxon King. He said that although there have only been two contests thus far, the two are wrestling with the poise and determination of mid-season athletes.

"I'm going to have to come up with some stuff to keep them engaged and motivated," Schmidt said, pondering how to continue challenging his wrestlers when they dominate their opponents so easily.

In the 152 pound weight class, Ingraham went three for three on the night, pinning all of his opponents about halfway through the second round.

King, wrestling at 120 pounds, also had a perfect evening, finding both of his two pins in less than 90 seconds, and dispatching one of his opponents in under a minute. "We knew coming into the season the level they were going to be on," Schmidt said of King and Ingraham.


Sophomore 113-pounder Andrew Everett also impressed the coaching staff, going three for four on his evening. Two of Everett's wins came in the third round, with one in the second. His only loss of the evening came with six seconds left in the second round of Everett's last match, a fall that Schmidt blamed on fatigue from long, hard-fought bouts.

"(Everett) really took what we worked on in practice this week and put it to good use–and he was very coachable last night. There were situations where we'd yell something and he'd immediately find his way into it," Schmidt said approvingly.

Results from the rest of the evening were more mixed, but Schmidt said he was encouraged with progress made by his grapplers. Trezdon Martinez, a sophomore wrestling in the 120-pound division, "made really good growth from match one to match two," Schmidt said.

Though Martinez was pinned in the third round of his first match-up and seemed reluctant to shoot at his opponents legs, Schmidt said he got better in his second bout, which he won with a pin in the second round. "(Martinez) has got a beautiful shot. We (coaches) know it. His teammates know it. We just don't think he knows it," Schmidt said.

Sophomore 160-pounder Tristan Gray was pinned twice at the meet, but Schmidt said the result was a little flukey. In the first bout, Gray "just got caught sitting. And he knew it right away," Schmidt recalled. In his second match, the coach said Gray was simply outclassed for his experience level, a common problem because of the discrepancy of experience between players in the sport.

Jess Sandoval, a 170-pound first year grappler also struggled with a more veteran opponent, losing his second match quickly. Schmidt said Sandoval fought hard in his first match-up though, and he got a win for his efforts, lodging a pin in 2:40.

Before the meet, Schmidt said he gathered his team in the locker room and delivered a far-sighted motivational speech. "This is a good time and place to make a statement–not only to the other teams that are here–but also to the community," Schmidt told them. He envisions growing the program year-by-year into a dominant wrestling force Wyoming-wide.

A more immediate challenge will be the Shane Shatto Invite Jan. 7, one of the most demanding invitationals all year. "It's a little tough to come back from the break and say, 'OK, we're off to the Shatto," Schmidt said.

The boys are off to a good start and seem primed for more competition though. New mats and a bit of rest could leave the Panthers ready to turn in another outstanding effort in the new year.

Max Miller

113-pounder Andrew Everett climbs on top for a pin win Dec. 15.

 

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