With 45 wrestlers out to practice each day, Grantsville wrestling coach Clarence Evans is two wrestlers deep at every weight but heavyweight.
“This is the most guys I’ve ever had out,” Evans said, showing his excitement at the number of wrestlers in the program. “I’m really excited for the team this year. We have a great mixture of young guys and experienced. We’ve basically doubled the team thanks to the efforts of wrestlers recruiting their friends and other coaches at Grantsville encouraging kids to come out for wrestling. My assistants and the football coaches, in particular, also recruited heavily for us.”
Evans’ team features seven seniors with two returning state placers. Thomas Coates, a four-year wrestler who placed fourth last year at 126 pounds, will bring his experience back to the mat along with newcomer Joseph Mecham, who won a Class 4A title last year at Tooele at 113. Also new to the team is Zackary McKendrick, who moved in from Idaho. Additional returning wrestlers include Nathen Carpenter, a 2019 state qualifier at 132, and Austin Wilcox, a 2019 state qualifier at 138. Chaz Shafer and Garrett Behunin round out the Class of 2020 grapplers.
Grantsville also returns eight other 2019 state qualifiers: Kole Johnson (106); Ian Mecham (106); Lance Pitt (113); Jacob Day (132); Canyon Palmer (152); Hunter Johnson (160); Cruz Baldovinez (160) and Colin Nay (195).
Although Evans is returning 12 state qualifiers, he still has a number of young wrestlers, including 13 freshmen, this season.
“We need our younger and new wrestlers to keep working hard and improving while our older more experienced kids need to stay on top of their game and tighten up their skills so they can keep doing the things they do well,” Evans said.
Harry Begay, Eric Fraser, Robbie Palmer, Andrew Williamson and Matt Mecham will be working the mat along with Evans as assistant coaches.
In Region 13 competition, Evans points to Morgan and South Summit, the 2019 Region 13 champion, as the teams to beat.
“Morgan looks good, especially at the lighter weights, and South Summit has a new coach, Cole Sanderson,” Evans said. “I’m not sure what Summit Academy will bring, and Providence Hall is a brand-new team in our region this year so I don’t know what they will bring to the mat.
“Juab is always tough, and Emery will be right there,” Evans said, looking forward to February and state competition. “Delta is always pushing the top. Manti and North Sanpete have some good young kids, and you can’t really count out Richfield and South Sevier.”
Even with that stiff competition, Evans feels his team can be right there at the end.
“The key to our success will be to stay healthy and keep working hard. Our current lineup has not been determined yet,” he said.. “I think we bring experience to all of the weight classes, but we’re not sure where everyone is going to fall. It’s always hard to tell because we have had some guys who grew.
“We are looking forward to kids stepping up in challenge matches and earning a spot in the varsity and JV lineups.”
Final challenge matches will be held during the “Meet the Team” Night on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.
The Cowboys begin their official season on Thursday night at Granger, with junior-varsity wrestling at 5:30 p.m. and varsity at 6 p.m. They will host the Cowboy Duals on Saturday, beginning at 9 a.m.