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At divisionals, which sets up the state seeding, 12 of NS’s wrestlers were able to place, and three alternates were set up for state. Two of the alternates were put into the state tournament as a result of injury or inability to attend, enabling 14 NS wrestlers to wrestle at state.
Because state was a double elimination tournament, the majority of the NS wrestlers went two and out the first day. The only two wrestlers that qualified for the second day were freshman Laramie Roberts and senior Keegan Eliason.
“It shows a lot about who these kids are. They worked through adversity and they placed themselves high,” head coach Bryan Strain said. “There were actually some matches that you could see in the wrestlers the mindset that ‘I’m going to state, I’m going to make this match work’ and they did.”
Although Roberts was unable to place in the top six at state, he still was one of the top eight wrestlers in the 170 weight class. He is only a freshman, so he is expected to improve and place in the years to come.
“State was great this year,” senior team captain Keegan Eliason said “This is the biggest number of wrestlers we’ve taken to state in my entire high school career. It was fun to be able to see the other wrestlers be able to show all their hard work to make it to state.”
The wrestlers were pleasantly surprised by the amount of hard work the team showed to make it to state.
“This season went by pretty well,” team captain Adrian Lemus said. “I think for as young as we are, placing 12 at divisionals is pretty good, so I’d say we had a pretty good season as a team.”
The team can all agree that this year has shown a lot of growth. Placing at state is difficult enough, but for new wrestlers to be able to do it just shows a lot of dedication to the sport.
“A lot of good things happened this year and we didn’t end up with as many placers at state as I would’ve liked,” Strain said, “but we still ended up with some really good matches and we did a lot of good things and we’re growing. In any program, you want to see growth and I think in this program you can definitely see that we’re growing and we’re getting better.”
The team has shown a lot of improvement from the first dual up to wrestling state.
“I never thought we’d qualify that many wrestlers to go to state. It just shows how hard we all work up in the wrestling room and how dedicated we really were this year,” Lemus said.
Although many of the division placers for NS were unable to place at state this year, there are a lot of high hopes from the coaches for next year.
“A lot of the wrestlers had a really tough first match,” Strain said. “The way the tournament is set up is that if one qualifies for the eighth spot in the division, you get to go to state, but your first match is against the number one seed.”
In every match, the wrestlers have to work really hard to earn their win.
“I think the harder you work, the more respect you have for the sport,” Eliason said. “It really does pay off when you give it everything you’ve got and that’s how I win.”
The coaches and many others can agree that this year was a good year in sportsmanship for the athletes.
“We have really good athletes,” Strain said. “Wrestling is a rough sport, but I don’t think in any point in time the athletes on this team did anything that was unexpected, or considered unsportsmanlike. They handled themselves really well, even in the losses.”