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By Jesse Utz 

Who's Next?

Jess Shut Up


Wrestling is a dedication sport. It is not always about the wins and losses and skill level. It is about the dedication you put into yourself and the time you’re willing to put in to be the best. How much are you willing to sacrifice? This time of year is the time we see grapplers headed to Mr. Hood’s mat room, running circuits and eating the bare essentials. All so they can elevate themselves to the next level.

The last five years have seen state wrestling champions in the halls of LR. Octavio Alejendre, Kodie Horn, Jacob Smith and Orrin Gross have all seen what extreme dedication and a heart set on winning at the elite level can bring. Pain, sweat and blood have been poured out day after day, month after month to achieve their name in the state record books and in their own goal history book as well. With wrestling season coming during the holiday season, this brings an even bigger obstacle when trying to achieve gold at this level. Passing on pie and other weight-seizing foods, running on Christmas Eve, and avoiding all things not good for you: this is just a small part of what it takes to be the best in your weight class. We recently saw what can happen with this kind of dedication when the football team went to state playoffs for the first time in 15 years, and when a brand-new soccer program made it to the playoffs as well. Not to mention more than 15 fall athletes getting recognized as all-league award winners.

So who is next? Who wants it badly enough? In wrestling, names like Renford Sanchez and Tony Nichols pop up first, then Kaleb Horn, possibly following in his brothers footsteps. Then there are names like Moses, Pakootas and Circle, which all have legitimate shots in wrestling. There is always the underdog too, maybe someone I did not even mention. The key for all of them is balancing their dedication to the mat with their dedication to the classroom.

Basketball has legitimate shots too, for both boys and girls. I know both coaches want it badly enough, but do the players? Are they willing to put in the work, listen to correction and move ahead as a team? Lifting each other up, teaching each other and inspiring each other to bring the entire unit to the next level. Basketball and wrestling are entirely different sports, but both heavily rely on teammates to succeed.

In basketball, we all know that one person never wins the game alone. It starts from day one in practice and flows to the games and to the off-season workouts. If the unit is not entirely together, then they are simply not together. And while wrestlers compete one on one when they get to the mat, everything else relies on a teammate. Having a teammate to spar with, push you and suffer alongside is the key to the championship, and that one person can make the difference between a second or first place.

So, who is next? Who is willing to do what it takes to be the best they can be? We are about to find out, and the answer lies with each circuit, each set of lines, in every point and every workout. Who is willing to lay it all on the line for not just themselves, but every teammate and every coach? Who is next to be a state champion. The race has already started. Let’s see how they finish.

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