SHERIDAN — Work hard. Have fun. Score points.
Sheridan High School wrestling head coach Tyson Shatto has a simple, direct message for his young team.
The Broncs began their season with few certainties. Sheridan has 44 wrestlers total, with an even mix of underclassmen and upperclassmen. With a more inexperienced squad than in recent years, specifics change but the structure remains the same: Work hard. Have fun. Score points.
The team has a few promising underclassmen but because of its youth, Shatto doesn’t know exactly what to expect during his seventh year as head coach.
“It’s a unique group, and we really don’t have much to attest to,” Shatto said. “But with their work ethic and from what I’ve seen so far, I think we’re going to progress very well … You can throw whatever you want at these guys and they’re going to do it. That accelerates a team almost more than anything.”
Sheridan finished ninth at the 4A state tournament last year. The Broncs return two wrestlers who placed at state last year as juniors. Trevon Covolo took fifth at 126 pounds and Quinn Heyneman took fifth at 138 pounds. Covolo will wrestle at the same weight to start the year, but Heyneman will begin the season in the 160-pound class.
The Broncs have a massive void to fill in the 170-pound class.
For the first time in four years, they are without three-time state champion Hayden Hastings, who is wrestling at the University of Wyoming. Shatto said it feels odd without Hastings this year but his presence remains.
“He was such a focal point for those four years that these kids underneath him, they watched him,” Shatto said. “They know what it takes to develop and be that good.”
Practice began last week and has mainly focused on conditioning and technique. The coaches will hone in on more specific skills and adjustments as the season goes on.
The first test takes place Thursday, with Worland coming to town for a varsity dual meet. Worland placed ninth in 3A state last year and returns three state placers, including senior Morgan Tigner, who was state runner-up at 220 pounds last year.
Worland has a storied history, winning the most 3A state titles with nine, the last coming in 2011. Shatto expects a dogfight Thursday from a tough Warriors group.
Sheridan can prepare for Worland based on the Warriors’ traditional strengths. Worland has quality wrestlers in the upper weight classes and is also a strong team from the top starting position.
“That’s something they’re proud of,” Shatto said. “They want to put their kids in position on top to where they can secure dominance. They do that whether they’re winning or losing.”
The young Broncs will have a tiny bit of experience as a team this season after Tuesday’s intrasquad scrimmage. Shatto was pleased with some freshman who stepped up in their matches and with the leadership and maturity from the upperclassmen.
Heading into the season, Sheridan is short on proven accolades but high on goals. Shatto said a number of his wrestlers want to place at the state meet in a few months. Time will tell how realistic those goals are, but Shatto believes lofty ambitions can only be achieved by setting lofty standards.
“Why else would you do this?” he asked.
The dual with Worland begins Thursday at 5 p.m. at Sheridan High School.