The air was hot and heavy with the smell of sweat mixed in with the smell of the wrestling mat at the Pahrump Valley High School wrestling room, which could only mean one thing — Trojans wrestling is back.
Hopes are high for the Trojans this year. Last season the Trojans 2012-13 wrestling team finished strong and went to state but did not have any state champions. The last time the team won a state championship was in 2008 and that was the last time the team had any state champions.
That year the two champions were Zach Weldon and James Chapman.
The Trojans finished the year in third place at the regional meet and was tenth at the state meet. In league, the Trojans were first place.
This year the Trojans have most of their team returning with loads of experience. Trojans Coach Craig Rieger expects his team to do well this year and said he had 58 wrestlers come out. The majority of the team is composed of juniors. The team has high hopes to do better than ever with many juniors hoping to make a name for themselves in the sport.
The team has a new wrestler from Canyon Springs in the 106-weight class and he is a junior named Joeseph Zarabozo.
In the 113-weight class senior David Martinez is coming back after a year off.
For the 120 pounders, there is junior Levi Gundacker who went to state last year and is in his third year as a varsity wrestler. Rieger said he looks really good and is a state hopeful and firmly holds his spot.
At 126 pounds, there is Kevin Daffer in his first year as a varsity wrestler. Daffer comes from a family of wrestlers and his older brother, Kyle wrestled varsity but this year will have to win his spot back in the heavyweights. There is a lot of competition for this spot and he will have to tough it out if he wants to remain varsity Rieger said.
The 132-pound class is represented by junior Nick Nelson, who is a third year varsity wrestler. Nelson is a veteran wrestler with skill.
In the 138-pound class, there is Sam Brophy from Utah who holds this position. He beat Matt Hughes who went to state last year. Rieger calls this young man a scrappy wrestler.
At 145 pounds, is senior Stephen McCormick, who is a four-year varsity wrestler. The coach said he is solid.
In the 152-pound class, Sam Tuscnak earned the varsity spot. Rieger said he worked at the weights during the off season and it shows.
At 160, John Clark holds this spot. Rieger said he weighs 152 pounds but knew he could go up and beat the 160-pound guy.
A big surprise at the 170-pound class is Abraham Preciado Castro, who out-wrestled senior and veteran Scott Maughan. Castro has two years of wrestling experience as a junior.
“He was JV for us but went to zone last year,” Rieger said. “He, Sam Tuscnak and Corrow all hit weights. They have dedicated themselves. Abraham beat Scott Maughan and did so decisively. That shows you that anybody could beat anyone. Scott is very forward and physical and Abraham is pretty slick technically. He stayed low and wrestled a smart match.”
At 182 pounds is junior John Corrow. He finished at varsity with the team last year.
At 195 pounds is Jax Clayton who is coming down from 212 pounds. “He looks good,” Rieger said.
Junior Jeremy Coates won his class at 220 pounds. Rieger said he was a reliable wrestler.
At the heavyweight class, Jace Clayton is wrestling at 250 pounds. Rieger says he is a little undersized for heavyweights but Jace is physical. This class goes up to 285 pounds and most wrestlers wrestle around 280 pounds.
The coach is looking forward to the Boulder City Duals this weekend.
“We have so many kids that look good but varsity-wise are inexperienced. We wrestle Moapa, Sierra Vista and Foothill. I know Foothill is really tough. We will wrestle those three and cross over. We could Wrestle Faith Lutheran, Del Sol and Boulder City,” he said.
As far as competition, the North opened everyone’s eyes with Lowry High School coming out on top last year. They had nine varsity wrestlers qualify for state.
“Lowry, Spring Creek and Fallon and Fernley are pretty tough. There are some tough northern schools.
Lowry is the team to beat until someone beats them. They have won it for at least five years in a row,” he said.
In the South, the Division 1-A has been led by teams like Virgin Valley and Boulder City. Of course with Faith Lutheran coming up with two state championships in football and volleyball in the fall, this team can not be counted out.
“Faith Lutheran has a great coaching staff and you really can’t prepare for them because they could have a whole new team,” Rieger said. Virgin Valley has a core of boys that wrestle from the Woods family. The whole family coaches.”
The strong Trojans team comes from a quality coaching staff in Joe Clayton, Rick Marshall, Fred Schmidt and volunteers Chris Hobson, John Gundacker and Elias Armendariz Jr.
Rieger also gave some credit to the Junior Wrestling program.
“We have reaped some benefits of the junior wrestling program this year. The program does really well in the elementary school age. Where our program lacks is at the middle school age. Rosemary Clarke does not have a team. We need to have a Sharks wrestling team. Up North they have middle school wrestling,” he concluded.