Hayden wrestling team 19 members strong | SteamboatToday.com

Hayden wrestling team 19 members strong

Hayden Valley High School sophomore Kalob More pins North Park freshman Quinten Fletcher at the Routt County Triangular in Hayden in early 2021.

The Hayden Valley High School wrestling team always produces strong athletes who make it far into the season, but the team is usually on the smaller side.

This year, there are 19 wrestlers on the Tigers roster, which coach Matt Linsacum believes is due to strong feeder programs, including the middle school.

“It’s headed in the right direction,” Linsacum said. “We always said if we could get four or five kids from each class, then we’ll be doing pretty good, just because it takes so many amount of kids to fill a roster, and you go to a dual tournament, and it’s nice to have a fuller roster, which we do this year.”

The team features a balance of newcomers and seasoned veterans, including senior Dylan Zimmerman, who has qualified for state every year and keeps getting closer to his goal of winning a state championship each year. Last winter, he finished fourth after entering the tournament undefeated at 138 pounds.

“He’s pretty determined and focused right now,” Linsacum said. “I look forward to seeing him throughout the season.”

Also returning are juniors Sabyn Hager, Cody Hawn and Kodi Ingols. They’ve all had great seasons in the past.

“I think that the whole junior class is someone to keep your eye on,” Linsacum said. “Kodi Ingols and Sabyn and Hawn and Owen Miller — a lot of those kids could really have a good season this year.”

Last year, Hager finished fourth at regionals, which normally would earn him a state tournament bid, but in the modified season, only the top two qualified from regionals. All juniors have a strong chance of performing well this season and qualifying.

In addition to Zimmerman, there are two other seniors to watch for in Kale Johnson and Israel Santos. Johnson, a tall, lanky distance runner, doesn’t fit the typical bill for a wrestler, but Linsacum thinks that’s what makes him a good opponent.

“He’s a wiry kid, and he’s really hard to wrestle,” Linsacum said. “He does a good job. I’m looking forward to watching him wrestle.”

Israel Santos is the other Hayden senior. This is just his second season wrestling, but he’s shown great improvement since he began the sport.

“Within that year last year, he kind of fell in love with the sport, and he’s pretty determined,” Linsacum said. “He’s shown a lot of growth in the last three or four weeks in practice.”

The team started the season this past weekend at the Maverick Duals in Grand Junction. The first few tournaments will set a benchmark for everyone and see where they stand and what they need to work on. The more competitive ones, such as the Tournament of Champions in Vernal, Utah, will be a great place for state hopefuls to see strong competition.

The Tigers continue their 2021-22 campaign at home versus Moffat County on Thursday.

“The end goal is always regionals and state,” Linsacum said. “So, everything up to that point is about improving.”

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