Entering his third year as head coach, Matt Ripplinger is excited about his team as a whole and a number of returning wrestlers.
Senior 120 pounder Justin Maxwell placed third in Region 6 and 7th at 4A Northern Divisional, 126 pounder junior Justin Horsley placed sixth at region while Joey Barnett is considered a Greco-Roman style specialist.
“Justin is a leader on the team this year,” Ripplinger said. “He is a hard worker. He is often seen at the South Davis Recreation Center working out after practice.
“He is dedicated and committed. He is also one of two last members of the first team I coached here at Bountiful.”
On Horsely, Ripplinger stated that he is a tough, competitive wrestler and extremely hard worker on and off the mat.
“Horsely is a tough wrestler who is aggressive and works hard in practice,” he said. “He has high goals which motivates him to stay focused and work hard.
“Barnett worked hard last year,” said Ripplinger of Joey Barnett. “For the off-season, he joined Kingdom Klub where they were able to practice hard and wrestle in many tournaments which added to his experience.
“They love wrestling and commit to do what it takes to get better.”
Junior AJ Tovey is one of the most aggressive wrestlers on the Braves team.
Tovey, who plans a mixed martial arts career as soon as he turns 18, was a 2011 Utah Freestyle State 5th place and 2011 Utah Greco State 7th place finisher.
“AJ committed himself in the off-season and wrestled the entire off-season at Kingdom Klub,” Ripplinger said. “He shows great improvement from last year.
“He works hard and I’m excited to see the results of where his hard work and dedication in the off-season has gotten him.”
Junior wrestler Junior Hamilton came on strong at the end of last year and missed state by one match.
He is expected to possibly do some big things for the Braves as the season moves along.
“Junior is the other member that was there on the first team I coached at Bountiful,” said Ripplinger. “He is bigger, stronger and quicker this year. He has improved every year and we expect him to do very well this season.”
As for the rest of the team, Ripplinger noted that there wasn’t a single person that didn’t work extremely hard during the offseason, leaving Ripplinger excited about what’s to come for the 2011-2012 campaign.
“The team is working very hard,” Ripplinger said. “I’m excited about where we can finish as a team and where these guys can finish individually.”
The Braves first region match won’t be until after the new year, however, the team will host several matches and be part of the biggest wrestling tournaments during the season.