Huskies trained in offseason, ready to compete on the matsDec 02, 2022 02:41PM ● By Julie Slama
By Julie Slama | [email protected]
Heading into the wrestling season, head coach Nick Pappas is happy with what he’s seen of his team.
Senior captain Briona Love, who is ranked first in 5A in her weight classification of 145 pounds, is ready for the season.
“She’s traveled to Fargo (North Dakota) for a national tournament and recently went to the Western States Tournament,” he said. “She has been competing in the offseason and is pretty locked in as far as her dedication.”
Pappas also has other state podium finishers returning on the 12-member girls’ team.
“(Sophomore) Eliza Zimmerman is also state ranked and a returning state placer. (Junior) Lilly Hutchings also is ranked in state. All the girls have a good shot at placing at state this year. They’re hard-working,” he said.
Several returning senior boys will lead the 30-member team; Pappas expects to see some compete at state.
“(Senior) Ezekiel Zimmerman was one match from placing last year. (Senior) Isaiah Rayco, he’s got a good shot, too. He was pretty dedicated in the offseason. (Senior) Wesley Tello, he got a pretty good shot, too. There’s a lot more of them, but those three are the ones who were at the state tournament last year,” he said.
Ezekiel Zimmerman likely will compete in the 130-pound classification; Rayco at 126 pounds and Tello at 144 pounds.
“Our seniors have done an awesome job demonstrating technique during open gyms, Pappas said, adding that he has five girls and seven to 10 boys who are new to the sport.
“We have a decent culture and kids know what's expected. A lot of the kids talk to friends and bring them out and we have kids walking by the wrestling room while it’s open and come asking about it,” he said.
This year, the girls will compete at the Rockwell Rumble in Herriman.
“It’s a big tournament with teams from the western states, from Colorado to California. It's probably the biggest high school tournament in the season that's put on here in the state. We also take our girls to the Christmas Clash (in Farmington), one of the bigger girls’ tournaments that usually there are 50-plus teams. I want to take at least a few of the boys to the Desert Storm tournament out in St. George,” Pappas said, adding that Arizona wrestlers likely will compete at it.
The Huskies were expected to open the season away at Taylorsville High, Pappas’s alma mater. Then, during the season, they are set to defend the Battle of the Axe dual against Brighton on Jan. 18, 2023.
Their biggest region competition may come from Payson High.
“Payson will have a lot of returners, and that’s the biggest thing, so that will come down to the wire as it usually does,” he said.
They match up against Payson Dec. 8, before divisionals on Feb. 3-4, 2023 and state, Feb. 17-18, 2023.
“I think this is going to be the best year we've had; our region is one of the toughest in state. What you'll get out of us as a group of kids who are wanting to and will work hard,” Pappas said. “We have a lot of camaraderie on the team.”