Bengals start new wrestling season with more depth, returning state placers
Nov 19, 2018 10:36AM
● By Josh McFadden
(From left) Jaxson Wilde and Garrett Wilde pose after a match last season. Wilde placed third in state last season in his weight class. (Photo by Jerry Christensen.)
By Josh McFadden | [email protected]
In a sport such as wrestling, numbers make all the difference.
Wrestling, much like golf, is an individual sport and team sport in one. Individual matches combine to make up the team sport. If a team doesn’t have the personnel to fill weight classes, it’s difficult to score enough overall points to come out victorious.
Brighton head coach Mitchell Stevens is happy that his squad is larger than it has been in previous years. Though many of these athletes are newcomers to the program (some are even new to the sport), Stevens does have two returners who placed at state a year ago and another, Rylan Stevens, who qualified for the 5A tournament.
Jaxson Wilde, a senior who will wrestle at 132 or 138 pounds, placed third at state last season in the 132-pound bracket. He defeated a competitor from Box Elder 10-3 in the third-place match. Anthony Ouk, a junior, also took third at state a year ago. He won by fall in the third-place match in the 126-pound bracket. He may move up to 132 pounds, depending on where Wilde ends up. Rylan Stevens wrestled at 138 pounds last season. At state, he won his first match by fall but lost in the next round. He then picked up a victory in the consolation bracket but lost before getting to a point where he could place.
Mitchell Stevens pointed out that senior Weston Shumway, who didn’t reach the state tournament last season, “should do pretty well” this season. He, along with some wrestlers in the 220-pound and heavyweight divisions, could help the Bengals’ fortunes. Mitchell Stevens can also turn to some of his many newcomers, as soon as he decides where they best fit into the lineup.
“We have some talented younger kids,” he said. “We just need to figure out where to put them.”
Unfortunately for Brighton, some athletes he expected to come back decided not to return to the team. However, he’s excited to see the new team members develop skills and work hard.
“I enjoy seeing the kids progress and grow,” he said. “I have a couple of kids who have never competed that are getting better.”
Mitchell Stevens credits his assistant coaches, Jerry Christensen, Travis George and Bronson Weaver, for helping develop the newer athletes. He said their instruction, along with the accomplishments of wrestlers such as Wilde and Ouk, will help the inexperienced team members catch on faster.
“The kids can see their experience and work ethic and can see what it takes to get to state,” Mitchell Stevens said.
The Bengals placed seventh in Class 5A last season. Mitchell Stevens doesn’t have a specific target where he wants his squad to finish. He simply wants to put his athletes in a position where they can be successful in each match.
“I want to get the kids in as good a shape as I can,” he said. “I need to get the new kids to understand the sport and understand the techniques.”