'We want to bring that title back to Sandy High'
The most sacred place in all of sports very well may be the wrestling practice room.
It's a place where athletes push each other to the brink every day. There is blood (metaphorically speaking), sweat and tears, but also smiles, laughter and unbelievable support. Even those best positioned to describe that place — a group of Pioneers wrestlers hungry to return the program to the top of the pantheon — struggle to describe the feeling found in a tucked away gym on the second floor of Sandy High.
Perhaps Sandy captains Mikey Platz and Jamison Davis are the only ones able to truly pin it down.
"There is this electricity in the air you can feel," Platz said. "It is a big deal to be in here — a bond, family."
"In this room we are brothers," Davis added.
The stage is set for this group of Sandy wrestlers to make the leap. After three years of building up the program everything is set for the Pioneers to make the leap.
"We are creating a culture — winning will follow," said coach Bryce Reisnaur. "The main goal is to wrestle for each other."
This year the Pioneers team has more than doubled in size, with nearly 35 wrestlers, and there is veteran leadership after the 2020 team had no seniors out on the mat. The ultimate goal for Sandy is to win the district title — something that hasn't happened for three years. But this group believes it can return to the dominant program that hoisted the trophy eight straight times.
"We want to bring that title back to Sandy High," Reisnaur said. "This is a really special group of kids, there are not egos involved, so I think we have a good chance."
A big part of making that happen will be the three captains, who each bring their own flair and style to the team.
Platz is methodical in his wrestling. The soft-spoken senior begins each bout defensively, often locked in the tie-up, waiting for his opponent to make a mistake. Once that happens, he capitalizes with superior techniques and movements.
"It can be terrifying when you first step on the mat — but then the spotlight hits you, and your teammates and fans are all cheering, and it becomes so exciting," Platz said.
Davis is a fiery presence on the mat, living up to his nickname "Wild Red." The junior wrestles with confidence and abandon, using aggressive moves and an offensive style that attempts to keep his opponent on their heels.
"I don't like getting pinned," he said with a smile.
The youngest captain is sophomore Mason Culp, who has been wrestling since he was 4 years old. He loves the one-on-one aspect of the sport, where your individual success matches the effort you put in each week training.
"You have to show up every day and work hard," he said. "It feels nice to be back on the mats."
Sandy is headed into the season in a great place, and winning districts is far from a pipe dream. Last year the team placed third, with David Douglas winning it all. But that was with Sandy not being able to send a full contingent due to a lack of numbers. This year the Pioneers combine talent — nine kids made it to the state tournament last year — with a deeper roster.
"We need to get the district title back to Sandy this year," Davis said. "We have been dreaming about this for years."
The journey will begin at the end of the month. Sandy hosts an intrasquad meet on Tuesday, Nov. 30, to determine varsity placements. The first official match will be 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 9, at home against Nelson.
And in the meantime this group of Pioneer wrestlers is going to keep pushing themselves and each other, all while building that special camaraderie.
"If we win districts that would be affirmation for what we are doing in this gym every day," Reisnaur said. "But if we can come off the mat saying we gave it all we had, and do the same at the end of the season, then we will hold our heads high regardless of the results."
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