SHERIDAN — When Sheridan High School freshman Landon Wood takes the mat, the crowd disappears and he only sees his opponent and the official. Not matter how many people are yelling at him or cheering from the crowd, he only hears two voices.
“When I step on the mat the only person I truly hear is my mom and my coach. I never hear anything else,” Wood said.
Wood has heard his mother’s voice his entire life, and it holds a different place in his mind.
SHS freshman Kolten Powers has a similar experience during his wrestling matches. He hears the instructions from his coaches and his dad encouraging him to take a shot or get back on his feet. Powers hears the noise of the crowd before his moment of victory.
“When I get an opponent stuck or I know he is done, I kind of focus a little bit on the crowd,” Powers said.
The freshmen have their first state tournament ahead of them on Feb. 28-29. The Casper Event Center will have 10,000 people in the building with nine mats covering its floor.
SHS wrestling head coach Tyson Shatto reminds his wrestlers only a few thousand of those in attendance focus on the three mats on which the Broncs compete. The venue is different but the teams are familiar to Sheridan.
Shatto said Sheridan faced a tough schedule in the season, and all wrestlers were under pressure to perform.
While Shatto has seen the state tournament affect athletes in funny ways, the team’s experience from the past few months proves they can compete at a high level.
A deep wrestling room aids the preparation. From Sheridan 21 wrestlers earned a trip to Casper: six freshmen, eight sophomores, seven juniors and two seniors.
The deeper the room, the better quality practice. Having a strong practice session leads to an easier transition when it comes to actual competition. Wood said having a deep practice room helped with his development and he has seen a lot of growth in his freshman season. The coaches and upperclassmen helped his development.
Wood was the 106-pound bracket champion at the 4A East regional tournament last weekend and Powers finished fourth in the contest.
Powers and Wood live wrestle and drill with each other in practice, pushing each other to the max. They also have other teammates they wrestle against in practice.
Shatto said at tournaments, wrestling partners that push each other both end up winning their individual brackets. Juniors Reese Osborne and Hunter Goodwin won their respective brackets at the regional tournament and are sparring partners in practice.
“That is not by mistake. They push each other in practice and it pays off,” Shatto said.
Shatto said the team worked hard all season and feels positive entering the weekend. He expects his wrestlers to enter their matches relaxed and loose.
Wood knows state wrestling is different than any other tournament. He will need to work through his nerves from the start.
Powers said it is important not to overthink before the match because that adds worry and nerves to the competition.
“If we psych ourselves out, we are not going to wrestle to our full potential,” Wood said.
Shatto said wrestlers that know how to manage the weekend best perform to their potential. They know when to turn on the intensity and are ready to compete, and they understand when it is time to relax. The wrestler knows what to do between matches, how much water to drink, what to eat and how much sleep they need. Athletes had all season to figure it out.
“Now it is up to these guys to go out there, to execute, perform to their ability and have some fun,” Shatto said.
Sheridan County athletes competing at state wrestling
From Sheridan High School: Landon Wood (9), Kolten Powers (9), Rudy Osborne (10), Dawson Goss (9), Cole Hansen (9), Camren Sanburn (11), Hunter Goodwin (11), Reese Osborne (11), Colson Coon (9), Damien Detavernier (10), Brock Steel (10), Ashton Wagenor (10), Hayden Crow (11), Quinton Mangus (11), Chris Larson (10), Jim Strobbe (10), Gage Kirshner (12), Aiden Fronek (9), Ethan Johnson (12), Justin Vela (11), Ryan Steiner (11).
From Tongue River High School: Aidan Collingwood (9), Payton Bastrom (10), Zach Cook (11), AJ Moline (9), Collin Eisele (9), James McKenzie (11), Kyle Breen (12), Wyatt Barnes (10), Adam Stainbrook (10), Luke Singer (11) and Caleb Cloud (10).