By Vern Hee
The Pahrump Junior Trojans Wrestling finished their best season ever, according to Head Coach Eli Prunchak. The team had its championship tournament match last weekend at the Lied Memorial Boys and Girls Club in Las Vegas. The team took fifth place out of 26 teams.
“I believe this is the first time in the 15-year history of the team that we received a team trophy,” said Prunchak. “I attribute the success a lot to the coaching. The kids also just work hard and the overall attitude of the team is better. I don’t know if the color and team change this year made a difference. This is the first year with our name change and color change.”
Prunchak said there is a core group of eight to 10 kids that came every weekend to the tournaments.
“These kids are all doing very well because you score points based on where you placed and how many kids are in your bracket that day. When we go to tournaments every weekend, and I only have eight to 10 kids, and we are competing against teams with 15, 20, even 30 kids, all of our kids are doing well to get those points,” he said.
Even though the core group did so well this year, Prunchak didn’t want to give them all the credit. He said there are kids that practice and don’t go to the tournaments for whatever reason.
The only major problem Prunchak said is attendance. Getting the kids to show up has been the biggest problem all year.
“I started with 43 around Christmas time. We were down to 25 in January and now, at the end of the season, we are running around with just 10-15 kids. My constant problem for the last four years has been getting the kids to show up. I would really love to get all those 43 kids to stay on for the whole season,” he said.
The key to the success of the organization is the coaching staff said Prunchak.
“We have six coaches. All of us have full-time jobs so it’s very rare to have all six coaches there during the same time. The kids don’t get as much one-on-one with the coaches. I do feel the frustration of the parents sometimes, because not all the kids can work with a coach.
“We do the best we can with the six coaches we have. Ideally, I would love to have more than six, but finding someone that can commit to the time is not easy. We run practice four days a week and we are in Las Vegas every Saturday during the season, which runs from November to February.
A great need of the team is funding. Prunchak knows the times have been tough, and he is finding donations are not as big as they were in the past. He said he will have more fundraisers in the off-season this year.
“We always need more money to keep the team going. People don’t realize how much things cost like T-shirts, and sweatshirts. I had one team mom donate $1,000, and we purchased four throwing dummies. Money keeps everything going. It is always a constant juggling act with money coming and money going out.
“For example, the official season is over, but we have a few kids going to state this year. They want to go to regionals and nationals. All those traveling expenses come out of the parents’ pockets. Our team just can’t afford to pay for all that stuff.”
Prunchak hopes next year to see more parent involvement.
“It’s frustrating when I have 43 on the team and 25 at practice and only five parents sitting in the room. I have some parents who just drop their kids off and I never get to meet them. For next year, I encourage the parents to come out and just help out on the mat.”
Pahrump Junior Trojans Wrestling thanks the following sponsors: Knights of Columbus, Valley Electric, Desert View Hospital, Affiliated Chiropractic, Pahrump Family Dental, State Farm-Brian Strain, Rick Marshall, Bob Owczarzak, Sunshine Café Las Vegas , LVMPD Police Athletic League and the Davis family.