SHERIDAN — A few minutes before he competes, Brenden Clem visualizes different moves to use during his wrestling match. He considers different ways to take an opponent down from the top position and how to escape from the bottom position.
Clem is one of 17 Sheridan High School wrestlers competing at the state championships this weekend, and he hopes to put his thoughts into action and find success Friday and Saturday.
Sheridan head coach Tyson Shatto said the team has a core group of wrestlers who can be counted on to contribute during every tournament. Those grapplers include reigning state champion Reese Osborne, along with Hayden Crow, Hunter Goodwin and Quinn Heyneman, all of whom have finished in the top six at state in previous years.
The head coach hopes another group of Broncs perform their best this weekend and vault the team into a top-five finish. That includes Clem, a senior who has a goal of placing in the top six in the 160-pound weight class after taking fourth at regionals last week.
Clem began wrestling around age 4 and enjoys the work ethic and determination the sport has taught him.
“Not only did it improve your shape physically and stuff, but the mental aspect of it has helped me through school, like getting to a roadblock and just … working past it,” Clem said.
Senior Drake DeCastro shared similar sentiments, saying the mindset required in wrestling has helped him improve on and off the mat.
“Push yourself beyond where you’re used to pushing yourself,” DeCastro said.
DeCastro has used that mental fortitude to deal with a shoulder injury earlier this season that caused him to miss about a month of practice and competition. He returned to the mat Feb. 9 against Campbell County and placed third at regionals last weekend in the 145-pound weight class.
DeCastro missed some time this year but carries plenty of experience after finishing sixth at state last year in the 170-pound class. He aims to finish in the top three this weekend.
DeCastro has adjusted his technique a bit due to the injury and now is more of a defensive wrestler. His season hasn’t gone how he expected, but the senior views state as a final opportunity to make his mark.
“One more weekend to go out with a big bang,” DeCastro said.
DeCastro said competing at state feels different. The higher energy level can lead to more nerves and anticipation than usual.
“There are so many more people that are in the stands and it’s so much larger than other tournaments, and it kind of gets you a little worried, but it’ll be fine,” DeCastro said.
That is why Shatto stresses routines throughout the year to try and make the matches feel as similar as possible. In his eighth year as head coach, Shatto tries to have the grapplers serene and focused before competition begins.
“We kind of know what state of mind they’re in by just looking at them, watching them warm up, so we try to keep them as calm as we can until that whistle blows,” Shatto said.
He said the team has shown excellent progress to this point and should improve on its seventh-place finish last year.
“Wherever we land, we have come a long way as a team,” Shatto said. “…We expect a strong performance, just because of the past few weeks that we’ve had. Anything less would not satisfy our palette.
Tongue River with eight state competitors in inaugural season
The Tongue River High School wrestling team will send eight wrestlers to state in its first year as a program. None of the Eagles’ wrestlers have competed at state before. Tongue River head coach CJ Scholl expressed pride in the team’s improvements.
“Hands down we’re wrestling our best all-around,” Scholl said. “…This is the time of the year when you want to be peaking, and I feel like we are.”
The state competition begins Friday at 9 a.m. at the Casper Events Center.