SHERIDAN — More than a decade ago, Hayden Crow, Hunter Goodwin and Reese Osborne began wrestling together.
The three had just started kindergarten but already showed a dedication to the sport. In addition to practices for a Young Guns program started by Goodwin’s father, they worked out on a mat in Osborne’s basement and did hill workouts at Kendrick Park during summers.
The commitment continued over the years, as they all attended Highland Park Elementary School and Sheridan Junior High School. Now, despite being sophomores, Crow, Goodwin and Osborne are three of the top wrestlers for Sheridan High School.
The three long-time friends, along with classmate Jason Vela, are four of seven Broncs ranked in the top seven in their respective weight classes on WyoWrestling. Crow is ranked third in the 145-pound class, Osborne (132) is sixth and Goodwin (126) comes in at seventh.
Osborne won a state championship last year in the 113-pound weight class and aims to bring home another title this season in a heavier class. Crow and Goodwin placed fifth and sixth at state, respectively, and plan to improve on those results this year.
This weekend, the wrestlers will get a better sense of how they compare to the rest of the state. Sheridan competes Friday and Saturday at the Ron Thon Tournament in Riverton, which features nearly every school in Wyoming, regardless of class size.
The competition in Riverton will present challenges, but that is nothing new for Crow, Goodwin and Osborne.
Goodwin and Osborne are practice partners and all three of them competed against each other in their younger years, pushing one another to improve.
“I think growing up and competing with each other at a high level was big,” Goodwin said. “Sticking with it when we were little and just pushing each other in the wrestling room.”
Osborne became more serious about the sport after moving to Sheridan at age 5 and meeting people like Crow and Goodwin.
“What influenced me was having people my age in my grade that I could be friends with that also wrestled, so that we could share an experience together,” Osborne said. “That’s probably what started me off on the right track.”
Despite the camaraderie off the mat, Goodwin and Osborne held nothing back when competing against each other.
“We wrestled a bunch of state championships against each other (growing up),” Goodwin said. “It was an experience. It was awesome. I mean, we were still friends, but there was definitely a rivalry there.”
Goodwin has had several competitive losses this season but feels he is progressing toward competing for a state title.
Osborne, too, has had a more challenging year than last season but said it has made him better for the long haul. He has already lost more matches this year than he did all of last year on his way to a state title.
“I’m getting a feel for it, but this year has definitely had its challenges,” Osborne said. “Last year I stepped on the mat and basically dominated everyone I wrestled, so I’m getting a different look, different feel, more challenges this year … I’ve always [known] that wrestling causes adversity. You hear it from everybody, but this year I’ve actually really experienced it mentally (and) physically.”
After missing about seven weeks in the middle of last year due to a knee injury, Crow has significantly improved in his first full healthy season of high school competition. He has placed at every tournament thus far, a goal of his before the year.
Crow said his favorite part about the sport is learning new things and talking with coaches about potential moves to use.
“Every single day, I’ll just come in here and learn something new,” Crow said.
The team has several seniors but only a few juniors, so the second-year wrestlers have taken on leadership roles this year.
“A lot of kids come to us for help and I feel like we’re there for them,” Goodwin said. “We like to push them and get them going doing practice if we see them going slow.”
“Anyone who’s not older than us just looks for us for advice, because we’ve been in a lot of positions that no one else would ever have thought of,” Crow said. “When they get into a move that they want to know or a move that they aren’t sure about, they’ll come to us three and look for advice.”
The three sophomores have known each other and competed together for a decade. Fortunately for the SHS wrestling program, that should continue for another two years.