odies” by Drowning Pool blared as more than a dozen wrestlers prepared for their winter season. With walls covered in nameplates that honor champions, head coach Porter Wilbanks glanced around the room and smiled as he blew the whistle, signaling the end of practice.
“We have very high expectations going into this season, and we have the team to win it all,” Wilbanks said.
That winning tradition is what fuels the team. This season, Boulder Creek wrestling boasts a senior class full of talent, along with a young core that looks to take home some heavy hardware at the state tournament.
After multiple delays due to COVID-19, the program will take part in a modified winter season, competing in six dual meets against section teams, followed by a section tournament, which acts as a state qualifier. The state and sectional tournament dates are yet to be announced.
“With the regular season tournaments being canceled, we’re just left with dual meets,” said senior Noah Kasprowicz.
Wilbanks added, “Our regular season tournaments get us ready for the state tournament. You have to learn how to wrestle in tournaments. This year, we’re hurt big time because our first tournament will be sectionals, which is our state qualifier.”
Over the course of the season, the team will match up against Shadow Ridge, Valley Vista, Chandler, O’Connor, Mountain Ridge and the defending state champion Liberty.
Last season, the Jaguars finished fifth with 112.5 points, behind Desert Vista, Mountain View Mesa, Cibola and Division 1 champions Liberty.
“We have a different mindset this year. We want to bring some hardware home from the state tournament this year,” said senior heavyweight Jacob Moore.
Moore, a dual-sport athlete who also plays football for Boulder Creek, looks to return to the mat and claim his second-straight state title. Ending with a 46-2 regular season record, Moore made quick work of the heavyweight bracket last season, ending three out of four matches with falls in the first 2 minutes. Moore will make his college decision shortly, currently holding offers from Southwest Minnesota State and Washburn.
Kasprowicz is looking to win his first title after coming up short in the finals last season. Placing second, Kasprowicz was a key contender for the Jaguars last season and helped the team on its way to fifth overall. Putting points on the board, Kasprowicz won matches 15-0, 14-0 and 8-0 before losing 5-2 in the championship match to Liberty’s Zander Phanturos. Kasprowicz may have a chance at redemption as he moves up to the 126-pound weight class.
When asked about the title match loss a year ago, Kasprowicz added, “Losing in the state finals hurt. This year, I’m hoping to rebound and win it all. Hopefully if I take state, a few more schools will take notice.”
Up-and-coming junior Caiden Cole placed third last year in the 106-pound weight class. Cole finished the regular season with a 36-5 record. With two more seasons ahead of him, Cole wants to strive for a state title as he moves up to the 132-pound weight class. Cole could potentially be a two-time state champion if he continues to improve.
“Last year, I came up short. I wanted to win a state title, so I’m using that feeling as my motivation for this year,” Cole said.
“That’s always your goal—is to win. These guys don’t work hard to get fifth place. They work hard so they can top that podium,” Wilbanks said. “Day-in and day-out this team has worked so hard, lifting and wrestling every day, and overcoming obstacles.”
Opening the season at 4 p.m. Jan. 27 at home, the Jaguars host Shadow Ridge.