PCHS wrestlers hope for strong showing
The Park City High School wrestling team has been an afterthought for several years. Not many athletes joined the team and there weren’t too many positive results.
But after qualifying a handful of wrestlers for state last year, the Miners now have several experienced members returning to the squad.
"We have nine returners from last year," Coach Doug Payne said. "We’ve got a couple of really decent seniors — Beckett Ricks and Greg Shagen — and a junior — Spencer Cameron — that have really worked in the offseason, which is unusual for our wrestlers. Some of them went over to Wasatch to go in the freestyle program and worked out there. Beckett went to Stanford for a wrestling camp."
With that offseason experience, Payne said there’s a chance for this year’s Miner squad to accomplish some big things.
"I think we’ll have some people who are prepared this year," he said. "It’s just a matter of getting them in shape and getting them ready to go."
There are 14 weight classes in Utah high school wrestling, ranging from 106 pounds to 285 pounds (the heavyweight class). Payne anticipates Park City will fill all but two of those weight classes on a consistent basis.
"It looks like we’re not going to have a 215 and a heavyweight," he said. "We’ve got some solid people at 195, 182 and 170 — the other three larger weight classes. We’ve got a couple 160s, a couple 152s and a couple 145s. Once we get below that, we’re pretty filled out."
Payne said it’s hard to get wrestlers at the heavier classes because of all the work that goes into the sport.
"The main thing is it’s really hard to wrestle," he said. "It’s you and one other person out there in the middle of the mat. It can be really ego-building if you put time into it and you get good, but if you walk out there thinking you’re going to muscle somebody over, it can be a real ego buster."
Despite not having the upper weights, Payne is confident in this year’s squad’s ability to compete.
"Our strength stands out in the number of returners we have and the weight classes they’re spread out in," he said. "They’ve really got some basics down. If they can just refine those skills, we’ll be in good shape."
Payne said practices have been focusing heavily on footwork and upright grappling.
"Our practices now are working on our feet with takedowns," he said. "If you can take somebody down and you can get away from them from the bottom, then you’ll win all your matches. It’s a two-for-one point exchange. If you let somebody up, they get one point, but if you take them down, you get two. You do it again and you’ve got four and they’ve got two. We’re working hard on our feet this year to get those takedowns."
In the revamped Region 10, Payne anticipates Union to be the toughest team, with Grantsville close behind. But, he added, don’t sleep on Stansbury or Tooele, either.
"Stansbury sometimes has some really good competition and Tooele usually has two or three really good wrestlers on their team and a lot of good wrestlers behind that," he said.
Still, he expects the Miners to be competitive in all their region matches.
"If we can get it in gear and get our lighter weights to really produce, we’ve got Beckett Ricks and some heavier guys who can hold their own," he said. "Everybody in the region, I think we’ve got a shot at all of them."
After only qualifying a few wrestlers for state last year, Payne would like to see more Park City representation at this year’s state tournament.
"Last year, I think we qualified three people for state in three weight classes," he said. "I look at these guys right now and I see the potential for qualifying six or seven for state. That would really help us out, especially if each of them could score one or two points in state."
The success of this year’s Park City squad is going to come down to dedication, Payne concluded.
"If these guys will commit to wrestling, it’s really going to be good and I think we’ll really have a good team," he said. "But they’ve got to commit to practice every day."
Park City’s season begins Dec. 5 at the Grantsville Cowboy Duals. The Miners’ first home match is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 10, at 7 p.m.
PCHS Wrestling Schedule
Dec. 5 — at Grantsville Cowboy Duals — 7 p.m.
Dec. 10 — vs. Tooele — 7 p.m.
Dec. 11-12 — Juab Tournament — TBD
Dec. 15 — at Union/Duchesne — TBD
Dec. 18-19 — Desert Storm Invitational — TBD
Jan. 7 — vs. Stansbury — 7 p.m.
Jan. 9 — at Ben Lomond Duals — TBD
Jan. 13 — at Ben Lomond — 7 p.m.
Jan. 20 — at Grantsville — 7 p.m.
Jan. 22-23 — Rockwell Tournament — TBD
Jan. 30 — Region 10 Tournament — TBD
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The Miners ended up on the wrong side of a close game on senior night but are still fighting for playoff seeding.