The Monticello Buckaroo wrestling team made history on Valentines Day, winning their first team state wrestling championship in 23 years and eighth overall.
It was a magnificent team effort by the veteran Buckaroos, who only had one wrestler in his first state tournament, Caleb Bailey, a freshman at 103 pounds.
That experience guided the Bucks to three state champions, four second place finishes, four third places and a fourth as the Bucks walked away with the team championship over second place Altamont. Additionally, Nolan Black and Chase Randall added to the medal grab with Academic All-State awards.
Even though it has been 23 years since the last Buckaroo team title, there hasn’t been a drought of wrestling for Monticello.
Quite the contrary, as during that time the Bucks have crowned nearly 50 state champions, with the current harvest of three, Reed Steele, Adam Martinez, and Jesse Barton becoming the 68th, 69th, and 70th Buckaroo state wrestling champs.
Just as many Buckaroos have placed second at state during that stretch, including a bucket full of thirds, fourths, fifths, and sixths in there, too. I’ll have to tally those up someday.
For many years since 1986, the Bucks wrestled in the 2A ranks against the likes of Millard and Juab, who would sport two wrestlers in each weight, something the Bucks seldom could accomplish in any weight.
Even so, the Bucks placed third twice in 2A, fourth twice and fifth and sixth. Since 2002, a Buckaroo wrestler has been voted the most outstanding wrestler every year. So outstanding wrestling has been the common denominator at Monticello for over 40 years.
And the common coach through most of those years? Kent Adair, head coach of the Buckaroos since about 1997 (no one seems to remember exactly when) and an assistant coach since 1976.
Adair wrestled on that first Buckaroo state championship team in 1973, taking second at the state tournament in Panguitch, Utah. I know for sure about that one, I was there watching. It was the first of six straight 1A team championships for new head coach Joe Wolfe Davis.
In 1976, Adair joined the staff unofficially, wrestling with the high school boys in practice and driving the team bus. “I don’t remember when they started paying me,” says Adair, “but sometime after John Dowell came from Duchesne, Coach Davis would split his and Dowell’s pay three ways and started paying all three of us.”
Adair’s style of coaching has always been to have his wrestlers in better shape than anybody and to wrestle a tough schedule.
“When our kids see that they are in better shape that other wrestlers, it gives them a lot of confidence. And when we wrestle such a tough schedule, they have to wrestle many tough matches, they don’t get a lot of pins, and they can use that conditioning to win a lot of matches. But they lose some too.”
This year, Adair figured he probably wouldn’t have a most outstanding wrestler, indeed, the best record among all of the team still sported nine losses, but he knew they were solid wrestlers who could wrestle well and long.
“We won a lot of matches this year coming from behind,” praises Adair, and he and assistant coach Ronnie Mussleman knew they had what it would take to win the team title. “We have a lot of confidence in our wrestlers, and they know it and they know they can compete against anybody,” continues Adair.
“This year, we could see the team coming together during our dual week in mid January. They started jelling and coming together. We finished a tough tournament at the Rocky Mountain Rumble, where we got beat up a little. But they started working harder and that dual week they got a lot of confidence and it just built from there. We just worked harder.”
Adair has no plans to hang it up yet, even though his last son, Rhett, finished his career for the Bucks with a third place finish at 171.
Adair was rewarded for his efforts as Buckaroo Head Coach with his second Coach of the Year honor. And with only five seniors on the team, look for the Bucks to contend again next year.
Oliver Parker wrestled for Bronco wrestling glory Saturday night, winning the 171 pound 2A championship in dramatic fashion.
Parker wrestled his opponent, Ryan Card of South Summit, to a standstill through three regular and three overtime periods.
The match ended with a 30-second sudden death overtime, with Parker down and trying to escape, Card up and trying to hold on. Parker managed the escape and claimed his first state championship for the Broncos.
Bronco wrestlers Ty Hosler, 112, Tyson Shumway, 130 and Benny Royer 140 all wrestled their way to sixth place finishes in the tough 2A tournament.
Wrestling is one of the noble sports, I think. It is the ultimate individual sport, but also has a tantalizing team aspect to it as well. When an individual is out on the mat, wrestling becomes an intensely personal experience. It is you against the other guy, man to man, no tricks, no guns, no weapons, skill against skill alone.
No teammates to help mute the attention, no helmet to hide your emotions behind, its you and him and the whole world watching.
The thing I like about wrestling is what happens when the match is over, you win in front of everyone, you lose in front of everyone.
For every Oliver, Reed, Adam, and Jesse, who outstandingly won state championships, there is a David, Colton, CJ, Chase, who heartbreakingly lost state championships, but who got up off the mat, shook their opponents hand, shook the opposing coaches hand, and returned to a team who embraced them nonetheless, taking the loss as a man with his team’s support.
My dad used to always tell me and my teams after losses, “Hold your head up.” I used to wonder why he wanted everyone to see my raw emotions that surfaced in a loss, but he was simply telling us to let everyone know that we could take the loss as well as a win, and win or lose with dignity, that it was no shame to lose and that we could learn from the losses as well as the wins.
To me that is the greatness of wrestling, it is having your wins and losses out there for all the world to see and handling both like a man, shrugging your shoulders after a loss and moving on, losing in the semis and coming back to take third or fourth or sixth place, like Ricky, Gabe, Rhett, Benny, Tyrel, Tyson and Taz did.
Losing early but continuing to compete like Ty did. Losing twice and being eliminated but cheering on your still competing teammates, like Jade, Cooper, Caleb and Nolan did.
Bouncing back from adversity and moving on, like they all did. One of life’s most enduring lessons, don’t you think?