No. 4 Warriors in Rawlins this weekend for 3A East tournament
February 14, 2019
WORLAND - The 3A East regional wrestling tournament is underway Friday and Saturday in Rawlins at Rawlins High School and as the defending 3A East champions the Worland Warriors have the opportunity to retain their crown.
Defending their 3A East title is a goal for the Warriors but more importantly, they want to start the tournament with a sense of urgency. The regular season is in the rearview mirror and with only two weeks remaining in the wrestling season, the time to swing for the fences is now.
"Our mentality is that everyone is 0-0 and anything can happen. Our mindset is that every point matters and we need everyone to place and win those close matches," said WHS wrestling coach Josh Garcia. "I'm not one to put a lot of pressure on the kids, we just need to make sure that we're in every match and we win those close ones."
The Warriors had four duals last week, starting with a 40-30 win over the Hot Springs County Bobcats on Feb. 7, senior night, at Worland High School. On Feb. 8 they went to Powell to wrestle the Powell Panthers and Cody Broncs, Worland beat Cody 51-28 but lost to Powell 43-18. Closing out the regular season on Feb. 9 in Lovell, the Warriors downed the Lovell Bulldogs 48-25.
In their dual win against the Bobcats, it was a match of whose strengths would win out. The 'Cats strength lies primarily in their upper weights, while the Warriors is with their lower weights. There were plenty of quality matches between the rivals but Worland ultimately pulled it out.
Along with getting quality matches against a tough opponent, Garcia wanted to see how his team responded with having a longer than usual layoff between duals/tournament. Before their dual against the 'Cats, the Warriors were last on the mat for their dual against Greybull and Rocky Mountain High School on Jan. 31.
"Our kids had last weekend off and we wrestled most our JV kids last week too. So it's tough to come back for a week like this but having a week off can be good. I thought our kids really came out and wrestled very well.
[Against Thermopolis] We didn't necessarily match up well with them, their upper ends were tough. [Wyatt] McDermott came in and wrestled tough, they wrestled tough," said Garcia. "Even though we won I told our kids that we can never be satisfied. We've got to be ready to wrestle from bottom to top."
Worland 160-pound sophomore Luke Goncalves continued his tear since returning from injury, winning each of his three matches last week. Now heading into regionals Goncalves doesn't have the matches under his belt that most have but he has the talent and growing confidence to return to his 2018 All-State form.
"He's gaining confidence, he's only got 12 matches under his belt compared to others that have 30 or so, but he's getting better and we're looking for big things out of him," said Garcia.
The Feb. 7 dual vs. Thermopolis was also the final career home wrestling matches for seniors Adam Bankert, Cameron Cabarett, Paysen Curtis, Isaac Goncalves, Tristen Lungren, Augie Pantelis and Payton Woffinden.
As it is each season, it's a bittersweet moment for Garcia and his staff. He gets to see his seniors move on to bigger and better things but at the same time, he's losing quality wrestlers and leaders.
"Having a group of seniors like this is always a bittersweet moment for us and our program. You always want them for another year but each senior has really contributed to the program. They've all overcome huge obstacles from Paysen Curtis and Cameron Cabarett.
"Cameron you could write a book on the battles he's had to overcome, those are the things for me that I'm going to miss - talking with them on the bus, at tournaments and watching them improve on the mat. My hats off to all my seniors and, again, I wish I had them for one more year," said Garcia.
The 3A East regional meet begins Friday at Rawlins High School at 2 p.m. and on Saturday the tournament resumes at 9 a.m.