Herders set to continue wrestling dominance, return senior leadership

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Senior Tate Stoddard lowers himself down into position during a match at the Ron Thon Invite last season. Stoddard returns to the Herders wrestling team as a three-time state champion and will look to lead Glenrock past 2A powerhouse Moorcroft after finishing second at last year’s state tournament. 

Eddie Poe eddie@glenrockind.com

When Nic Dillon first took over at the helm of the Glenrock wrestling program, he vowed to change the culture and turn a relatively unknown program into a  contender. At the time, the Herders had just six state champions in the history of their program to their name.
Fast forward to today, a total transformation has taken place. Glenrock has won 13 state titles over the last eight years, and in the process, have become a perennial powerhouse.
“Every year we come in looking to perform well and become state champions,” Dillon said. “Beyond that, our expectation is to focus on grades and build our wrestlers into young men.”
After reclassifying from 3A to 2A in 2016, Glenrock has finished runner-up at the state tournament the past two years. Moorcroft has gotten the best of the Herders on the season’s biggest stage, but it hasn’t taken away from the hoard of individual state titles that the Herders have brought home.
For the second straight year last season, Glenrock placed nine wrestlers at the state tournament. And in 2017, the Herders broke the school record for points scored with 216.5. Five of last season’s nine wrestlers that placed were also in the top three, two of whom are returning this season.
“We have five returning seniors this season that bring a lot of experience and know what’s expected,” Dillon noted. “This class has learned from the classes before them and have become just as great of leaders.”
Glenrock may have lost top wrestlers Joe Taylor and Jadon Williams to graduation, but they return seniors Tate Stoddard, Ian Arnold, Zane Moore and Brysen Collier who will each be key leaders for the Herders.
Stoddard is a three-time state champ at 113 pounds and is the wrestler to beat in the conference. At 182, Arnold returns as a state runner-up and will be vying for a state title once again. Moore returns after a fourth-place finish at 145 and Collier also returns after taking fourth at 138.
Dillon spoke highly of his four leaders and relies on them to set a positive example for the rest of his team.
“In practice so far they’ve been just as hard on the team as I’ve been,” Dillon said. “They’ve come in each year with the goal of being state champs and have done a great job of building a culture of we all help lead each other and help each other.”
Dillon will have strong, proven leaders on the mat once again this season, and he hasn’t forgotten about the things they’ve taken away from wrestlers of previous seasons.
“We did lose some good kids,” he said. “Anytime you have a small team, losing those guys can be tough. You just have to know how to push forward through that loss with leadership.”
Through two weeks of practice, it’s evident that Dillon won’t have to worry about that department. The tradition of the program has taught them well and they continue to pass it along to the wrestlers behind them.
This season’s team will feature at least four sophomores and six freshman, according to Dillon. At 120 pounds, Dustin Simmons will also return this season after finishing sixth at state last season.
As they finish preparing for the first weekend of tournaments, the eighth-year head coach has taken notice of his team and their ability to put all individual desires behind them for the sake of one another.
“They’re a lot more team oriented and not as focused on individualized things,” Dillon said. “They want the entire team to do well. They’re very selfless - they’ve made it clear that their focus this year is on what everybody can do for each other.”
For any team loaded with talent it’s a sight to treasure, especially before the season has even officially begun. But it’s the type of culture that Dillon has been working tirelessly to create in Glenrock and has shown its true colors in recent seasons.
The first month and a half of the season is typically the most telling as wrestlers settle into new weight classes, or find their area of comfortability against quality competition from surrounding areas.
The Herders will have their first chance at some top competition this weekend at the Charlie Lake Invite in Cheynne.
“Cheyenne is always tough,” Dillon said. “There are a bunch of teams from Colorado that are always there and have already been wrestling for a few weeks. The first weekend is a tough test.”
Dillon also pointed to today’s Tri-Meet Dual in Buffalo as a noteworthy challenge, featuring the Bison and Douglas Bearcats.
As the season begins to unwrap and the calendar turns to 2019, the Herders return to the mat with one goal: win a state championship. 


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