The Champs

Tate Stoddard

Joe Taylor

Isak Elisson

By Phillip Harnden

Junior Tate Stoddard has become the 113 pounder in 2A to beat. He has held the state title since his freshman year.
This year was no different as he pinned Lovell’s Quinton Hecker just over two minutes into what is supposed to be the hardest match of the season.
The legacy of winning from this young wrestler is testament to his dedication, but also what he is thinking when he steps up to the line.
“Honestly, my mindset wasn’t about winning or losing,” he said after his victory Saturday. “It was about having fun, you know. It’s my junior year. I only get to do this one more time. I am just enjoying the experience of the crowd. I am going to wrestle in college, hopefully, but I don’t know if I’m going to get as big of a crowd as this.”
He already has years of success under his belt and has proven to be the best wrestler in his weight year after year, he says he needs to put even more time in.
“Hard work and dedication are key,” he said “Last summer I didn’t put in as much work as I should have. I now know that I need to be in that room almost every day.”
Stoddard said he had to work extra hard to make up for slacking last summer when this season started.
But for him, it’s just what one does to win, but he says that wrestling for the Herd is as important as the extra practice.
“Glenrock’s different,” Stoddard said. “You know we’re not just a team. We are a band of brothers.”
This group of wrestlers doesn’t just come together for the season, many of them work on their skills all year.
“Teamwork for us is everybody being there for everybody. Everyone supporting each other’s matches. Being there for everybody, from the best guy to the worst guy,” he said with a grin. “It’s about keeping everyone accountable”
But the junior is losing two of his close friends and teammates who are graduating this year.
“It’s been one heck of a ride. Me, Isak and Joe have been in that wrestling room together since my sixth-grade year. We’ve been brother since sixth grade. Seeing them leave is pretty emotional. They have been a big part of my life. I wouldn’t be where I’m at today without Joe pushing me every single day.”

Isak Elisson
Over the past four years senior Isak Elisson has hovered on the verge of titles and acclaim. He has consistently finished tournaments in the top six. But that top step has remained mostly elusive to him.
Most any coach will tell athletes, “It’s not how you start, It’s how you finish.”
Elisson finished on top, leaving heartbroken wrestlers in his wake throughout his climb to the championship match.
Elisson stepped up to the line for his final match of his senior year with the title on the line. There would be no more chances, no do-overs and no coming back.
The pressure was on and it was all or nothing.
“I just told myself that I’m going to leave it all out there on the mat,” Elisson said moments after his victory Saturday. “This was my last match ever so I just opened up and went with the flow.”
“Going with the flow” describes something entirely different on the mat than in day-to-day life. During the match it means having fluid reaction to what your opponent is doing.
It worked. Elisson was able to pin Cokeville’s Cordell Viehweg at the 5:09 mark.
This wasn’t the first time Elisson had to step up to Viehweg. Last year he pinned Elisson in the quarter finals of State, before moving on to finish as runner-up. Elisson came back through the consolation round to finish sixth.
It’s been a long road for Elisson. He has put in countless extra hours during the season and off.
But now that the final match is over and years of dedication has culminated in the ultimate victory, what has he learned?
“If you keep working hard enough you can get somewhere, whether it be at a job or a relationship or anything,” he said. “Life isn’t fair, life is tough, so you just have to keep pushing through the tough times.”
And that’s what Elisson has done over the past four years. When life gets rough he pushes harder.
“I just kept pushing hard through the summertime and trained harder,” he said.
Elisson’s older brother, Erik, a former GHS wrestler, was able to be on the sidelines for Elisson’s  final match. For Elisson, it meant everything for his family to be there.
“All I really wanted to do this season was make him and my family proud, so I kept pushing and I finally got there.”

Joe Taylor
The last hurrah as a wrestling Herder came for Joe Taylor Saturday at the state tournament. He grabbed his third state championship in as many years.
But with his third title comes the end of his tenure as a wrestling Herder including emotions that go with the end of something great.
“This week I’ve been trying to put it off,” Taylor said about his emotional final tournament. “Come Sunday I can really think about it. All week it’s been hard to deny that it’s going to be pretty emotional going into this state tournament. Even at the face-off I just tried to look at the crowd and soak it all in. I am going to go on and wrestle next year, but it’s just not going to be the same.”
It’s been a long road for Joe to make his own legacy and break out from his brother’s shadow. He certainly has stepped up, put in the work and is now casting his own shadow as large as his brother Jackson’s.
“I feel like I have had to mentally battle a lot more than most kids,” Joe said. “I felt like there was a lot of pressure on me to do good just because of having a really solid wrestler as a brother and a very competitive dad. It has felt like I’ve had expectations to live up to.”
For Joe, the natural talent was there, but his struggle was in his mind. “
The mental battles is where I’ve improved the most,” he said. “Every match I would go into my freshman year I was sick to my stomach. I was so nervous. By the end of this year, I found a way to enjoy it and go out there and let if flow and wrestle my best. My freshman year I wrestled tense and I know it wasn’t the Joe Taylor that everyone deserved to see.”
The GHS wrestling program is moving to the end of an era of Taylors leading the record books.
Taylor’s older brother Jackson was also a three-time state champion. Joe has taken the legacy of his brother and only improved upon it. But Joe says it started back in the 1990’s.
“It went beyond me and Jack too. It started with my dad (John Taylor),” he said. “When he wrestled as a sophomore he took second. He really began it. Without him, we wouldn’t have even gotten into this sport. I want to shout out my dad, he’s the biggest factor in my success.”
But there is one more Taylor to compete for the Herders.
“My little sister isn’t going to wrestle, obviously, but she is going to be a star athlete in Glenrock, I’m calling it now.”


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