By Josh Hall
Herald Sports Editor
EVANSTON — The Evanston High School wrestling team has faced a challenging schedule through the first half of the year.
But the Red Devils believe that will benefit them when it matters most — say the Class 4A state tournament in Casper.
Evanston took another step in the right direction on Wednesday by claiming a 47-31 win against Rock Springs in the first match of the 4A West Conference for both teams.
“Whenever you’re competing and you win matches, that’s a step in the right direction,” Evanston coach Larry Wagstaff said. “It gives our kids confidence, it helps them realize they can wrestle. Any time you get a win, it’s a good thing for your team and for your program.”
It was the Red Devils’ plan from the beginning to face tougher completion — not just Wyoming, but Utah, and Idaho, as well — in order to compete at the highest level for the second half of the season, especially during conference play.
“Tough competition only helps you if you can survive it,” Wagstaff said. “If your kids are just getting hammered and not learning anything that doesn’t do any good. But if you go against tough competition and endure those matches, that’s good for your kids.”
Did Evanston survive it?
“I think we’re heading in the right direction,” Wagstaff said. “I think we have a lot of work to do. We’re still pretty young.”
While they might be young, the Red Devils are making their mark across the state. Evanston has six wrestler that are ranked in wyomingwrestling.com’s latest rankings.
Nena Sowers, Isaac Saavedra, Saige Synan, Rylie Griggs, Pablo Escalante and Gavin Simmons are all ranked in the top seven in Class 4A
Synan, a junior, is ranked first at 152 pounds.
“Coach (Wagstaff) always said champions come in pairs,” Synan said. “It’s about having teammates pushing you in practice and listening to what the coaches tell you to do. We started off at the beginning of the year, but with each meet we’re getting better.
“If we work more on skill, work together and push ourselves harder, I feel like we have the potential to be ranked higher.”
Wagstaff is encouraged by the rankings, but he believes the Red Devils are capable of more.
“It’s encouraging, but it’s a possibility of having 14 kids in that ranking,” he said. “We’ve got some work to do.”
Against Rock Springs, Brandon VanGieson (106), Sowers (113), Synan (152), Angel Rodriguez (160), Griggs (170), Escalante (182), Simmons (195), and Blake Overy (220) all picked up wins in their respective weight classes
“If we keep working hard, I feel like we’re going to get better as a team,” Escalante said.
EVANSTON WRESTLERS RANKED IN CLASS 4A (BY WEIGHT)
4A TEAM RANKINGS