ST. GEORGE — After a decisive team victory over Hurricane on Friday, the Snow Canyon Warriors boys wrestling team completed a full-season sweep of its Region 9 schedule, going a perfect 6-0 in regional duals, according to TrackWrestling.
The senior-heavy Warriors relied on a family-first approach to coaching rather than a skills-based one to get them over the top. In the era of COVID-19, coach Nick Lang believed that with his experienced team, it was more important to nurture individuals and the group rather than the talent.
“This year, more than any other year that I’ve been a coach, we have come together to support each other as a collective group,” Lang told St. George News at the Enterprise Duals on Jan. 23. “We’ve challenged them to be Warriors on and off the mat, including with their friendships; with their teammates. We’re not perfect. We make mistakes. There are attitude adjustments we all have to make and we’re striving for. It’s funny, we focus more on character development and doing the little things, because we’re conditioning. We’re already getting stronger. We’re already training and doing the technique; but focusing on these other things, we’ll see more success as a team and as individuals.”
The Warriors found that success early and often. In their first Region 9 contest on Jan. 14, they blew out Dixie 53-24. Snow Canyon lost only four matches and only one above class 132 — a forfeit at the 285 class with no wrestler competing.
Wins just kept rolling from there. The Warriors beat Desert Hills, last year’s Region 9 top finisher in state, 52-24. They defeated Pine View 40-34 (see Ed. note).
Aside from that six-point win over the Panthers, the next closest anyone got was Hurricane, which still fell 42-29 on Jan. 29. It was Snow Canyon’s last regional meet of the year and on the heels of a meet against Canyon View the day before and two additional meets, including Enterprise, in the past six days.
A senior core four went a combined 14-6 across the six Region 9 matches. Jace Lang, Nick’s son, went 5-1 and Ian Shakespeare went 2-1. Brannon Wilson went 2-4.
Carson Hansen went 5-0 in region duals at the 195 class. He recorded four pins and outscored Hurricane’s Seth Peart 17-2.
On top of five seniors on the roster, the Warriors have eight juniors.
“We just have a lot of upper classmen and kids that have been working really hard in the offseason to get to where we’re all really good as a team,” Hansen said. “We’ve been focusing on bringing our team together and being more unified.”
It’s that level of experience that allowed Lang and his staff to focus on developing his athletes’ characters and futures more so than direct wrestling techniques.
Hansen says it translated directly to success on the mat.
“Coach says, ‘It’s more important to me to have you guys become men and learn stuff that’ll help you throughout your life to be fathers and good spouses,'” Hansen said. “That kind of transfers over into wrestling because you need to have sportsmanship and all that good stuff to be a good wrestler.”
The wins started piling up, and as they prepped for the Enterprise Tournament, an undefeated season came close to a reality. With two opponents to go, the team was starting to see the chance before them – and they wanted it.
“That would mean a lot,” Hansen said in Enterprise. “We’ve already beat Desert Hills, which we haven’t beat them since 2012. I don’t think we’ve beat Canyon View for about that long or maybe ever. So that would mean a lot to us just to send us off as seniors. That would be awesome.”
The Warriors will try to push for a 4A state title next, starting with the 4A Division A duals at Desert Hills High on Feb. 5 and 6.
Ed. note: Story has been updated to reflect the correct score of Snow Canyon’s dual win over Pine View.
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