SHERIDAN — The Sheridan High School wrestling team had a strong start to its season Thursday evening, easily winning a dual against Worland 60 to 24. Seven Bronc wrestlers tallied pins, including the final five athletes who faced opponents.
Sheridan head coach Tyson Shatto said it was a great start for the fairly young team.
“When you start the year, it’s kind of hard to know what you have,” Shatto said. “I say that because we’ve got a lot of new faces for the varsity lineup, so when the unknown is there you rely on what we’ve been doing for a week-and-a-half, which is just basic, steady wrestling. I believe that showed up tonight.”
Ethan Johnson (220) tallied a first-round pin to put the opening points on the scoreboard for the Broncs, which the head coach said got the team rolling in the right direction.
Johnson, a junior, qualified for state last season but didn’t begin wrestling until his freshman year. He said it was exciting to get the opening victory.
“I didn’t win a lot last year, so it was nice to finally come out and get one,” Johnson said.
This year’s Broncs have more athletes in the lighter weight classes, which played to Sheridan’s advantage Thursday. All four Sheridan wrestlers from 120 to 145 pounds — Rudy Osborne, Reese Osborne, Tyler Combridge and Hayden Crow — pinned their opponents, steadily building the team’s lead.
Combridge (138) initially thought he won the match at the end of the second period, but time expired right before the referee signaled the pin. That didn’t deter Combridge, who pinned his opponent 33 seconds into the third round and secured the team victory.
Shatto complimented the senior grappler’s mental fortitude.
“That’s hard to keep your poise, thinking you won, and then having to strap it back up and go out and pin a guy twice in a match,” Shatto said.
Reese Osborne is the top returning performer from last season’s team that took seventh at state. He captured the state championship as a freshman in the 113-pound class but wrestled at 132 pounds Thursday evening and will likely be one of several wrestlers who move around the lineup this season.
Shatto was encouraged by the support his wrestlers showed for one another in the opening competition.
“It’s so hard to judge this time of year where we’re at,” Shatto said. “I was just pleased with the effort the guys had. The camaraderie right now that we’re building, the team chemistry, is probably more important than anything. You saw it tonight. It was electric. That’ll take us farther than anything.”
Quinn Heyneman (160) won by forfeit Thursday but will get a chance to compete with several Broncs this weekend at a tournament in Rapid City, South Dakota.
Heyneman is looking forward to going to battle with his teammates during what will likely be a grueling weekend full of matches.
“Big tournaments are kind of a grind,” Heyneman said. “You’re getting up, you’re getting down, you’re wrestling, you’re cooling off, then you’re doing the whole thing over again … (I am) getting ready to just get through the season and to go out and just throw down every match I get.”
Johnson and Heyneman said wrestling is ostensibly a solitary sport but it helps if an athlete receives energy and enthusiasm from teammates during the match. That was certainly the case Thursday, as the team erupted in celebration after all of Sheridan’s pins.
“Everyone sees wrestling as a completely individualistic sport, but this year we’re all pulling together,” Heyneman said. “…We’re competing less for ourselves [and more] for each other, because this is a unit that I’d go toe to toe against anyone with.”
The young team still has a lot to figure out, but Thursday evening provided an encouraging beginning to the season.
Sheridan’s wrestlers will compete in the Rapid City, South Dakota, Invitational Friday and Saturday.