Wolverines Wrestling Team has High HopesJan 04, 2016 03:39PM ● By Bryan Scott
By Greg James
West Valley - The Hunter High School wrestling team has increased in numbers over the last four years. Head coach Terry Allen hopes that growth continues.
“We are a young team and becoming very deep. A few years ago we only had 15 kids on the entire team. This season we have 45. Every year it has been a process to get those numbers to continue to go up,” Allen said.
The Wolverines have three returning seniors that were state qualifiers last season: Bryan Gomez, Jonathan Saafi and Antonio Ruiz.
At a dual meet against Olympus on Dec. 8, Ruiz defeated the Titan’s Zachary Degraw 10-5. He placed fourth in last year’s state championships and he took first place at the Granite District Tournament on Nov. 24. The website wrestleutah.com currently has him ranked first in the state in his weight class of 126 lbs.
Saafi started the season with a first-place finish at the Granite District tournament. He defeated his teammate Taylor Schaefemayer 6-5 in the finals. Saafi is currently ranked third by wrestle Utah in his weight class, 170 lbs.
“Wrestling is so intense; this time of year we only get about three practices a week, so it is hard to correct mistakes. We have had two dual meets and a tournament on the weekends almost every week. Once the kids get settled down in their weights, they will get better. I think it all comes down to mat time. The kids that get the most mat time win 90 percent of the time,” Allen said.
Freshman Chase Walker is a wrestler Allen said he expects big things from. Walker has wrestled in the Hunter youth program since he was six years old.
“I like the way wrestling makes me work hard and pushes me to my max. I try not to think about my opponent too much. I just wrestle like I can. In this sport you need to have heart. If they get you on your back and you do not have the heart, you are done,” Walker said.
Walker has started the season with several intense matches. He lost in the Granite District Tournament finals 12-10 to a wrestler from Skyline. Against Olympus’ Ray Cao on Dec. 8, he came out on top of a back-and-forth contest 15-10. Walker jumped out front quickly in the match and almost had a pin in the second period, but Cao closed the gap before the final whistle. Walker wrestles in the 145 lbs. weight class.
“I really like Chase. He has plenty of potential. He makes some freshman mistakes, but never gives up,” assistant coach Derek Jensen said.
The state wrestling tournament is scheduled for Feb. 10-11 at Utah Valley University. The Wolverines are scheduled to wrestle their rival Granger High School Jan. 21.
“I think our team is great. We could be a record-breaking team. I really feel a bond with them,” Walker said.