During tough season, senior wrestler says camaraderie is key
Park City High School wrestling is about to start its final stretch of the season. In a week, the team will go to Sectionals, where its athletes will wrestle for a shot at the Class 4A state competition. But before that, the team held a small celebration during a tri-meet with Ben Lomond and Bonneville on Thursday night to honor its seniors.
“It was fun, we’ve had a good time, the kids bonded again,” said Tony Pelegrin, head coach. “We tend to have that with the small group we have.”
He said getting wrestlers to have fun is important because, at the end of the day, wrestling is a demanding sport, and camaraderie is crucial.
“They work hard, they condition hard, the practices are pretty tough, the schedule is tough because we have to weigh in at 7 a.m., so we have to get up at 5:30 or something like that,” he said. “It’s not a fun sport from that perspective, but the kids have stepped up and done what they are supposed to.”
For senior and team co-captain Keifer Maples, the team has bonded because of that hard work, not in spite of it.
“Although we are probably one of the smallest teams — we only have about 13 kids this year — it’s a really tight group; it’s a family,” he said. “We do a lot of things together, we laugh together, we practice together, condition together, so we’re really a knit group.”
Maples joined the team as a sophomore after his father suggested he try it. A year later his brother, Ethan, joined, and the two have been on the team since. Both will graduate this year, alongside Cameron Shine and Bridger Gull.
But Keifer said Thursday night’s match-up was one he wouldn’t soon forget.
“My first match, I wrestled a guy named Garcia, he and I went a full six minutes in the match,” he said. “We had to go into overtime and we were still tired, so we had to go into extra overtime and extra overtime.”
Eventually, Maples earned the winning points.
“I felt exhausted afterwards — I felt like the world was going to end, my body was so tired,” he said.
After he won, the world didn’t end, and Garcia brought him a drink of water and they talked about the match.
“I like people like that in wrestling,” he said. “You have a great match then afterward you talk about it.”
After recuperating for an hour, he wrestled again and pinned his Ben Lomond opponent.
“I just wanted to get (that match) over with,” he recalled after the match. “I’ve wrestled that kid before and he’s pretty good, but I just caught him in different things, pinned him fast.”
Maples was already looking forward to his next match, but that’s the way this season has gone, he said — it’s passed in the blink of an eye.
“Before wrestling season I was thinking, ‘Oh, no, wrestling season is almost here I have to get shape’,” he said. “And two weeks from now we have divisionals and state.”
After he graduates, he hopes to attend Air Force Academy, and, every once in a while, check back in to see how the wrestling team, his other family, is doing.
But first, a 6 a.m. wakeup call, followed by another tournament.
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