SHERIDAN — It’s the final days of wrestling practice at Sheridan High School, and all of the grapplers in the second-floor wrestling room have their minds focused on the state tournament.
Some will be wrestling in the tournament for the first time and will aim for a win or two. Others seek a top-four finish.
Trenten Heil, Sheridan’s 132-pound wrestler, has his eyes set on one of the sport’s ultimate prizes — a state championship.
With an impressive 34-7 record this year, Heil has been Wyowrestling.com’s top-ranked 4A 132-pound wrestler since the fifth week of the season. All signs point toward 2017 being his year on top of the podium.
For the past two years, he’s come close to grabbing the state title but came up short. But those losses made him hungrier to be the best in his weight class in his senior year.
Everything looked well for the Sheridan wrestler in the 2015 state tournament. As the second seed in the 113-pound weight class, Heil picked up two pins on his way to the semifinals.
Then came one of the toughest losses of his career.
He squared off with Nathan McCann, a freshman from Rock Springs. While many expected Heil to pick up an easy victory, he ended up on the wrong side of the scoreboard in a tough 3-1 decision. He ended up taking third that year.
“That one was heartbreaking,” Heil said about his sophomore-year finish. “I thought that was going to be my year to win it.”
He ended up on the wrong side of the bracket his junior year, too.
After commanding wins in the first two rounds, he ran into Laramie’s Idris Elias — an out-of-state transfer who ended up taking the state title at 126 pounds. Like he did the previous season, Heil battled his way through the consolation bracket to take third.
But 2017 has been a breakout season for Heil.
As he’s done throughout most of his career, Heil said he got off to a slow start this season. Yet, Heil has made a name for himself the past few weeks.
Prior to the Ron Thon Memorial Tournament in Riverton, a tournament most consider more difficult than even the state tournament, assistant coach Kasey Garnhart told Heil that he had a legitimate chance of making the finals.
“When he said that, I thought there was no way ,” Heil said.
However, Heil had one of the best weekends of his career. He picked up two pins in the first rounds of the tournament to meet up with Buffalo’s Cole Reiner, a wrestler Heil had gone 1-1 against earlier in the season. With the finals in sight, Heil grabbed a tight 4-1 decision in the rubber-match with Reiner to head to the finals.
While he just missed out on the Ron Thon belt after losing in the finals, Heil was more than pleased with his performance.
“It wasn’t the way I wanted it to turn out in the finals, but I was happy with it,” Heil said.
Heil also grabbed the 132-pound title at the regional tournament last weekend to give him the top seed headed into the state tournament.
While head coach Tyson Shatto said Heil isn’t the vocal leader on the Sheridan wrestling squad, it’s his performance on the mat that helps the young wrestlers with their approach to wrestling.
“We can analyze where Trenten was as a freshman to where he is as a senior as to where experience can get a guy,” Shatto said. “He’s bought in fully this season, and it’s a big difference between now and where he is a few years ago.”
Shatto doesn’t like to make predictions, but he said if Heil takes it one match at a time, his senior wrestler is more than capable of obtaining his goal.
And a state championship this season would make all of Heil’s painful losses of years’ past fade away.
“It would be crazy to win the state championship,” Heil said. “It would really be a dream come true.”