The strategy is simple for Carson High wrestling coach Tyson Thivierge. Send all seven of his wrestlers to the finals. Win the state title. No problem.
While it will be a daunting task for Carson to win the NIAA 4A State Championship this weekend at Spanish Springs with just seven wrestlers, Thivierge is not counting his athletes out. The state event begins at 4 p.m. on Friday and continues through Saturday with the championship matches set for 6 p.m.
"That's our strategy get them pushed in there as high as they can go," Thivierge said.
On paper, it will be virtually impossible for Carson to finish ahead of the likes of Mojave, Cimarron-Memorial and Las Vegas. Mojave beat four-time defending state champion Cimarron for the Sunset section title and will have 12 wrestlers while Las Vegas, the Sunrise section champion, will have 11 wrestlers.
But the Senators can be encouraged by their performance last year in which with only six wrestlers, Carson took fifth at state. The Senators had five wrestlers place at state last year.
This year Carson will have Owen Craugh (43-5, 112 pounds), Todd Banko (34-3, 119), Robbie Bozin (44-4, 125), Kyle Banko (34-4, 130), Adam Carmazzi (28-10, 135), Martin Azzam (24-12, 145) and Travis Lamborn (41-5, 160) at the state meet.
As Thivierge sees it, Carson should have at least five wrestlers place in the top four this weekend.
"They all should place," Thivierge said. "Everyone one of them has got a great shot. If they just focus on one match at a time they'll get the job done.
"Everyone of these guys are where they should be at this time of the season. Their mindset is right."
Thivierge also doesn't want his wrestlers to do scoreboard watching. "You don't worry about team standings," he said.
"Just wrestle your match and the team standings will fall into place. We'll be up there."
Here's an outlook for Carson's wrestlers:
112 - Craugh could be heading for another showdown with Damonte Ranch's Jordan O'Neal for the title. O'Neal has already beaten Craugh twice this season, once earlier in the year in a dual and last week 11-5 for the Northern 4A title.
"It's eating him up," said Thivierge about the two losses to O'Neal. Thivierge added Craugh could very well "have another chance at him," referring to O'Neal.
119 - Todd Banko has a tough draw as he'll open with Palo Verde's Glen Terrano, who has split two matches with Bozin this season. There's also Galena's Doug Del Porto, who beat Banko in last week's zone semifinals, forcing Banko to qualify for state as a third place finisher.
Banko also lost to Del Porto in last year's zone finals. But Thivierge said Banko is capable of making a run at the state title. Banko took third last year at state.
125 - Bozin had an off match in the semfinals last week and had to settle for third at zone. But Thivierge said Bozin is another wrestler capable of making a run at the state title. "He's got a great shot at winning it," Thivierge said.
130 - Kyle Banko was a state runner-up last year and he could be poised to break through for a state title this weekend. He won the zone title last week.
"Kyle's got a great shot," Thivierge said. "If he continues to wrestle like's wrestled he's going to be standing at the top of the podium. He's putting it together right now."
135 - Carmazzi wrestled outstanding in last week's third place match to qualify for state.
"He wrestled like he was capable of," Thivierge said. "If he continues to wrestle like that he'll be up there."
145 - "Azzam's just go to keep attacking," Thivierge said. "When he attacks he wins.
"He's done a great job the last three weeks. He's made a lot of progress the last three weeks."
160 - After three straight third place finishes at state, Lamborn is looking to finally break through for a state title after winning zone last week.
"He's got tunnel vision," Thivierge said. "He's going to get there and wrestle his heart off. He'll be one of the ones at the top."
Carson won the zone title last week because of wrestlers like Matt Heath (171), Garrett Truesdell (189) and Derek Giurlani, who all took fourth at regionals.
"That stuff it hurts," said Thivierge about his wrestlers who just missed qualifying for state.
"But they were a big part of the zone trophy. They'lll be a big part of the state one, too."
Zone runner-up Douglas with six wrestlers also has an excellent chance to break the top five at state. Garrett Hekuis (30-7, 112), Devin Barker (24-7, 140), Ryan Pruitt (35-7, 152), Jake Williams (23-7, 160), Tony Ferris (23-3, 171) and Sean Molina (33-6, 189) will all compete at state.