Wrestling takes five to state tournament


photo by Karson Cuozzo

Head coach Scotty Diaz and senior Kamdon Harrison hug after Harrison won his wrestling match to place third in the state.

The moment every high school wrestler dreams of was here: the state tournament. All the long practices and days dedicated to cutting weight finally paid off. The varsity wrestling team took five to the tournament: freshman Nik Blake (132), junior Justin St. John (152), junior Connor Gilliam (170), junior Hunter Tate (182) and senior Kamdon Harrison (160). Three placed in the top six, with Blake taking fourth place, Tate taking sixth and Harrison taking third. 

Harrison had an exceptional tournament. He started off the tournament with a loss, but he fought back during the consolation and blood rounds to make it to the third place match. Consolation rounds are the loser’s bracket, while the blood round is the round of consolation that wrestlers must win to place.  

The third place finish  marked the end of the best wrestling career in school history. Harrison finished as the all-time win leader with 194 wins. He broke the single season pin record at states with 45 pins, and ended with 158 career pins. Harrison was the first four-time state qualifier and placer in the program. 

“I was incredibly nervous going into the state tournament and it definitely showed in my first match, but after that it was smooth sailing through to my third place match,” Harrison said. 

Harrison has been a strong voice on the team since his freshman year. 

“It was a surreal feeling when my match ended, it did not feel like my wrestling career was actually over. It’s bittersweet,” Harrison said.

The last match could not have ended any better for Harrison.

“It was a six minute match for Diaz, and I gave him all six minutes,” Harrison said. “Then everyone came over afterward, and I am not typically very emotional but it definitely pulled on my heartstrings a little. The wrestling team is a family and that’s something you don’t get with other teams. You get the good and the bad, but that is what you get when you find a good family.” 

Overall, it was a good tournament for the program, and a good season for the team, head coach Scotty Diaz is content with how the team finished. 

“We were a pretty young team that kept improving throughout the year, we still need to mature a little and gain more self confidence,” Diaz said. 

Blake, a freshman, had a standout season with a record of 52-6. Another freshman, Shyann  Tate (140), also had an impressive season, with a record of 31-4. Shyann was the only representative for the girls wrestling team at the state tournament.

“It was a good season, there are a lot of things I want to improve on before next year, technique being a big one for me,” Blake said. “My goal this year was to be a state champion and I ended up placing fourth, which in my eyes is not good enough, but I still have three more years to reach my goal.” 

Returners like Gilliam, St. John and Tate had exceptional seasons as well. Unfortunately, Gilliam and St. John ended their season on the first day of the state tournament, but placed top 16 in the state. 

“My goal this year was to qualify for the region tournament, and I surpassed that goal and qualified for the state tournament. Even though I lost on the first day, this year has been a big improvement from last year,” St. John said. 

Tate wrestled his first match on Thursday and won. On Friday, the second day of the tournament, he lost his first match, but had short term memory, and redeemed himself for a chance to place fifth in the state. 

“I went from not placing last year to being sixth in the state in the 3A 182 weight class, it is a big accomplishment,” Tate said. 

The team will be returning five out of the six state qualifiers, as Harrison is graduating this year. Serving as team captain for the past four years, Diaz says his voice on the team will be missed. 

“We lost a lot of leadership within the program. Our seniors were a great group that were able to lead a young group of wrestlers and show them the right way to do things,” Diaz said. “We lost the most accomplished wrestler in program history, Kamdon Harrison, but hands down this is one of the best senior classes I have had the privilege of coaching.”