Setting goals at all levels key for Moffat County wrestlers at every stage
For the Craig Press
With four years to hone their skills, some Moffat County High School wrestlers may find success immediately, and some find it rising through the ranks little by little.
But all of them share a desire to end their high school run knowing they’ve given their full effort on the mat.
The start of the grappling season in mid-November sees Bulldog athletes move into high gear in the weeks leading into competition in December.
And, to the delight of MCHS coaches, numbers are strong this season.
“We definitely have the most numbers since I’ve been here, I think, maybe since back when I was an assistant coach. We’ve got at least 25, and I think we might get more coming in,” said head coach Tyler Seislove, in his third year running the program. “We’ve got a good group of seniors, a good group of juniors behind them, so it should be an exciting year. There’s more freshmen than any age group.”
Leading the charge are eight seniors: Caden Call, Anthony Duran, Ryan Duzik, Trace Frederickson, Hunter Fredrickson, Alex Musgrave, Pepper Rhyne, and Kalub West
Among the many strong competitors coming up behind them are juniors Kaden Hixson, Billy Lawton, Michael Voloshin, and Brody Wiser, to name a few.
Duran, Rhyne and Hixson have each competed at state twice, and Seislove said he has high expectations for older athletes in particular, having tracked the cycle of competitors from other schools.
“A lot of guys, when you looked at it last year, who placed ahead of them or beat them out at regionals, a lot of those guys for our sophomores and juniors were seniors, so they won’t be returning,” Seislove said. “Sophomore or junior year is when a lot of guys take their big leap — they kind of mature more and become the top dog in their weight class.”
Among the drawbacks of last year’s COVID-19-impacted season that was the smaller list of state qualifiers for all schools. As the runner-up among 3A Region 1 teams, Moffat County had 10 of their 12 athletes place third or higher in their weight classes, but only four went on to the state championships with only the top two from each region able to progress with the temporary rules.
While Hixson and Rhyne each went on to place fifth at the state tournament in March, and then-senior Blake Juergens and then-freshman Blake Hill each made the cut, those who were close to qualifying are looking to make it happen this year.
Call, who took sixth at state as a sophomore, has already shaken off the wrestle-back that denied him state entry as a junior, despite initially placing in the top two.
“Work hard, keep my weight down, eat right, stay healthy,” Call said of his goals for senior season.
Duzik took third at regionals as a junior, which was arguably his best season after a recurring knee issue as a freshman and sophomore. For the early season, he is focusing most on getting his physique ready.
“My biggest challenge is my weight. I’ll be at 152. I’ve been hanging out in the 160s, but I’ll be able to make it to 52. I have a lot of good practice partners right now,” Duzik said. “Seislove is a great coach. He does a lot of conditioning, and I feel like I’m really in shape, so that helps a lot on the mat.”
Keeping his weight in the 120s to challenge a lot of younger contenders, Duran has his attention on small but crucial components of the sport during practice.
“It’s all about technique and getting focused on that. Stance and motion, shooting, and trying to get that tempo over speed,” Duran said.
After making it to state as a freshman, Hunter Fredrickson struggled more in subsequent seasons, though he’s prepared to make his senior year count.
“I’m working on being more aggressive and opening up the offense,” Fredrickson said.
He added that he wants to come out strong right away at events like the Warrior Classic and Tournament of Champions.
“I really want to place at Warrior and TOC, that’s another goal for this year. I want to go up against some tougher kids and beat them this year,” Fredrickson said.
For other seniors, their goals are to make a statement elsewhere.
For instance, Trace Frederickson is aiming to do more than junior varsity, where he’s been in past season.
“My main goal for myself is to be able to go to regionals and be a part of varsity. My ultimate goal is to be a state qualifier, but I need to stay on varsity first,” Frederickson said. “The first few weeks, I’ll probably have to wrestle a little heavier than I want to go. With football season just ending, I really need to cut some weight.”
Frederickson noted that even when he hasn’t been in the spotlight, he felt wrestling has been beneficial.
“It’s really helped me become more myself and be a better person and get a lot stronger,” he said.
Musgrave likewise is staying on the varsity roster, though his weight status will play into that.
“I like it right at 160. It’s a tough weight class. It’s hard being in the middle, because all the big guys want to drop down or the little guys want to go up. It’s right where they make it,” Musgrave said. “I really just want to make it to regionals. The goal for me is just qualifying.”
Seislove and fellow coaches are emphasizing slow and steady work for all in the wrestling practice room.
“Improve every day. We’re not worried about winning, we’re not gonna talk about winning, it’s all about being able to walk out of practice and being able to say, ‘I got better at this,’” Seislove said. “You don’t want them to get caught up in winning and thinking winning is what proves you. You gotta teach the guys it’s about the work you put in and improving every day. You might take some losses at the beginning, but if you improve every single day, that guy who beat you at first, you’ll be beating them at the end of the year.”
Call said this season is an important one for him, perhaps more than any other.
“I want to leave the season knowing I gave my all and having no regrets,” he said. “I enjoy making new bonds with teammates and making new friends. I enjoy the sensation you have after working and getting something back from all that work.”
Musgrave noted that he loves the sport’s physicality and strength-building but also the team bonds.
“You make yourself better every day, and your teammates are always helping you,” he said. “We always have fun and help each other. It may not seem like it, but you can definitely hear them when you’re in your match.”
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