WRESTLING PREVIEW: Pavlenko calls for daily improvement


Stryder Salas

Returning wrestler Ikaika Maldonado, readying for the season.

First-year head coach Alex Pavlenko has one simple goal for the 2019-20 Pumas:

Get better. Every day.

With 14 weight classes to fill and only five wrestlers returning with state-tournament experience, daily improvement has to be a top-priority.

“Getting better like learning moves, trying new things, and getting new people in the wrestling room.” said Jacob Kimling, a senior eager to fill the gap in leadership left by three notable wrestlers in Justin Clatterbuck, Travis Calloway, and Connor Boyd.

But Pavlenko believes these five are incredibly competent, and especially confident they will qualify again this year. Tyler Rovnak, a returning senior is confident as well, “We got a pretty big group this year, a bunch of freshmen and a bunch of people coming back this year” This talent pool will be a key asset in the full recovery from a more than half empty team to a mat ready squad. Of course the teams won’t be solid until the Intersquad Wrestle-Offs on the 19th, which will sort out the variable who’s who of the wrestling teams.

Their biggest challenge, however, is right down the road at Hamilton, who will be returning almost every wrestler on their team from last year. The Huskies won sectionals last year, took fourth at state and who the Pumas face at Red Mountain Duals on December 11th. 

“I feel like we can be a good team, we just have to practice,” said Jacob Kimling Despite the grim outlook, the message has been resoundingly positive, with both wrestlers expressing their high hopes for the season.

I feel like we can be a good team, we just have to practice”

— Jacob Kimling

While this is Coach Pavlenko’s first year as head coach here, he was the head coach at Tempe High for seven years. He believes this year, besides of course the final goal of a state title, that the team will do its best to get better every day. Whether that constitutes more weight training or sparring. With State more than three months away, not only must they rebuild from a skeleton crew, but also face a great threat in Hamilton High and the other large schools in division one.  The first meet, at Mountain View Mesa will show if this new team will prove itself.