Hayden wrestling prepares to tackle the season
Completing its goal of being a top 10 team in Class 2A with a ninth-place finish last season, Hayden wrestling has set its sights even higher for the 2022-23 season.
Head coach Matt Linsacum is anticipating great success this year from his team. The Tigers are returning six seniors, including a couple of state qualifiers from last year, who he says are all motivated to get the season started.
“Having a lot of the guys back from last year, we’re ahead of where we have been in the past,” Linsacum said. “Those kids are already working hard and look pretty good, so it’s just a matter of getting them in wrestling shape.”
Linsacum says the mission for this season is to be a top-five team, and he is confident his boys will produce.
Many of the wrestling athletes also compete on the Tigers football team, and Linsacum believes that gives his athletes a huge advantage when it comes to team chemistry.
Following Hayden football’s loss in the state playoff in early November, several players could be found in the gym just three days later preparing for the wrestling season. That fire is what Linsacum hopes will differentiate his team from the other schools this year.
“We always talk about family, and so does every team, but with these guys, it really is like family because they have been with each other since they were in kindergarten,” Linsacum said. “For 13 years, they have played every season back-to-back and it’s a tight knit group, and it makes a huge impact on the success of the team when there is a good culture and all that.”
The team has not yet named a captain, and Linsacum said each one of his seniors deserve a captaincy. That position will be filled by a team vote leading up to Hayden’s first match of the season on Dec. 3 in Grand Junction.
The Tigers will face highly competitive opponents to start the year, but Linsacum is confident the heightened competition will be a necessary stepping stone on the way to the state tournament.
Linsacum knows wrestling is a long season that can span from November to late February. He says the primary focus is to narrow in on the regional and state tournaments at the end of the season.
He is less concerned about performance in early season matches because he knows his boys will develop quickly throughout the year.
“These kids have to understand to trust the process,” Linsacum said. “Wrestling is an incredibly hard sport and it’s mostly mental. You have to control your diet and you have to work. We have two-a-days and the kids are lifting in the morning, then they have a weights class. It can be grueling.”
To reach Tom Skulski, call 970-871-4240, email tskulski@SteamboatPilot.com.
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