With a roster that counts five veterans of the Class 2A state tournament, the White River High boys wrestling team has launched a promising season.
Back for another season of competition is the nucleus of last year’s team that placed third at regionals and 12th at Mat Classic, the state championships.
Leading the Hornets into this year’s matches are battle-tested grapplers like juniors Ryan Redford and Cooper Franklin and sophomores Nathan Moore, Max Wheeler and Jack Ervien. All five placed high during regional competition and earned berths into the 2A state meet.
Both Wheeler and Moore scrapped their way to third-place medals at last season’s Mat Classic, where Redford placed fifth and Ervien was eighth.
The squad, directed by veteran coach Joe Klein, opened its season by hosting the White River Classic. The Hornets received championship performances from the expected sources, with Wheeler, now competing at 120 pounds, Moore, 145, and Ervien, 152, taking Classic titles. Additionally, freshman Weston Lyver, 138, and Redford, 170, wrestled to second-place honors while freshmen Gabe Hawthorne, 113, and Jared Rodarte, 132, captured third place.
With a trio of state tournament veterans leading the charge, the White River girls wrestling team has hit the mats for the 2016-17 campaign.
Looking for return trips to Mat Classic – under the tutelage of coach Rich Valdez – are seniors Erin Redford and Jacey Lindner and junior Payton Stroud.
Lost from last year’s team that placed 21st at state are two wrestlers – Madison Altamirano and Brianne Wiens – who graduated.
Getting the bulk of the attention this year will be Redford, who brought home third-place honors from Mat Classic the past two seasons, competing at 130 pounds. She accomplished that by taking on the best the entire state has to offer, as the girls’ state tourney includes schools from all classifications, from the largest to the smallest.
Redford has already signed a scholarship offer to compete next fall for Oklahoma City University, an NCAA Division I program. Heading into her final prep season, Redford is ranked as one of the top 15 female wrestlers in the state by Washington USA Wrestling.
A year ago, Lindner took fifth-place honors at the state meet, competing in the 190-pound division. Stroud had a tough draw at 120 pounds, opening against the eventual state champion; she dropped her first two state matches and was eliminated.