Sandy • Blood drips from one boy’s nose as another heaves into a corner trash can. Sweat drips from the wrestler’s shirt as the players slowly begin to round into shape.
The coach informs them when practice is through that last week — “Hell Week” — is nothing compared to what lies ahead for the wrestling team.
So why do they do it? Why the sacrifice? Why test their physical and mental limits?
Competition. Desire. Respect.
Alta never has won a state championship, but junior Matt Findlay believes this could be the Hawks’ year. For the first time in a long time, they not only have the elite talent in several weight classes, but also the roster depth — the sheer numbers — to make it happen.
“I think we can be state champs,” said Findlay, a two-time state champion and the top-ranked wrestler in the Class 5A 113-pound division. “We have the potential and the number of kids, which is something we struggled with in the last couple of years. We’ve had the talent but not the number. I think our guys will pull through.”
The Hawks are the favorite to defend the Region 3 title and claim their seventh banner in nine years.
But the blood, sweat and exhaustion they endure for two hours every afternoon has a larger purpose: Take down and pin the state’s top dog.
“To be honest, the biggest rivalry is between us and Pleasant Grove,” said senior Will Kilpack, ranked second in 5A at 145 pounds. “That is a serious rivalry.”
The Vikings to the south are the favorite to win a third consecutive state title, but the Vikings to the north — Viewmont — and neighboring Layton and Syracuse also are near the top of the list.
After hoarding the state crown for nearly a decade — Region 1 teams won nine consecutive titles from 2002 to 2010 — the northern schools created a clear line of delineation between those in the south.
“They are the farmer guys, and we’re just the guys trying to be like them, I guess,” Alta’s Dallas Walker said. “It’s fun to beat them.”
Added Findlay: “The northern guys are always really good. I know a lot of the guys up there, and we see them all the time in tournaments. You just know when you go up there it’s always going to be a tough match.
“When they come down here to our tournaments, that’s when you really want to show up and represent yourself well.”
The Hawks open the 2012-13 season Nov. 27 against Murray, then host Viewmont in a dual meet Nov. 28.