The year before, as a fifth grade student, Zac had made some big improvements and won the Utah Freestyle novice state championship.
Most of the improvements came through hard work, getting beat on by his older brothers and a new coach, John Kelly, who was a national champion and former college coach.
John introduced Zac to a couple of new styles of wrestling Greco-Roman and Freestyle (styles in the Olympics) and then coached him to his first state championship.
Zac’s longtime coach and dad had high expectations going into his sixth grade year and was a bit upset at him for that first loss.
It turns out the kid was a Nebraska state champion who had just moved to Colorado. Zac was also able to avenge the loss later in the year. Zac was able to finish his Jr. High folk style (high school style) year in grand fashion by winning the Utah 1-3 A state championship and then the Utah Super State Championship (all divisions combined).
Along the way, Zac place in several national caliber tournaments, including first place finishes at the Salt Lake Slam and Caleb Williams Memorial tournaments; second at The Freak Show in Las Vegas, Who’s Bad in Pueblo, CO and The Beehive Brawl; and third in the Rocky Mountain Nationals in Denver CO.
He also received the Most Valuable Wrestler award in the Kayenta, AZ Tournament and went undefeated 13-0 in the North Sevier camp competition wrestling against high school age boys.
Zac wrestled more than 100 folk style matches this year getting himself prepared for his favorite style of wrestling, freestyle.
He owes his success in folkstyle to many coaches and wrestling partners, including Jr. High coaches Mike Bradford, Art Adair, and Kyle Curtis. These men spend a huge amount of time helping Monticello boys learn to wrestle. Also Rowdy Boy coach RL Wilcox, who runs one of the best youth programs around. Most of Zac’s success comes from his wrestling partners Shandon Bradford and McKade Larose, who keep Zac at the top of his game all year.
The Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling seasons are a bit different this year. John Kelly moved and many wrestlers in the area are worn out by the time it gets underway.
Zac wrestles for the Canyonlands Wrestling Club and it really only had four members. He was lucky enough that former Monticello standout and 4X State Champion Aaron Butler was able to take over as coach.
He also had the dads of the four wrestlers in the club there at each practice, including JJ Squires, who has been a part of Zacs wrestling career beginning at age four and Steve Simpson, who is one of Zac’s Mat Rat coaches from Blanding.
Canyonlands Wrestling Club is part of USA Wrestling, the largest and most recognized wrestling association in the United States. It divides wrestlers up by age and weight in tournaments. Zac was involved with the Novice division, but received permission from USA wrestling to move up to the next age level called Schoolboy for Utah tournaments.This allowed Zac to wrestle more experienced wrestlers.
USA Utah had a State Tournament in May. Zac won the Novice 105 lb. division in both Freestyle and Greco-Roman and was named as USA Utah wrestler of the week at the end of May.
Zac is one of only two southern Utah wrestlers to win the Utah Triple Crown; state championships in all three wrestling styles. The other is a wrestler from Delta.
Zac, Spencer Squires, and Tyler Andreason qualified to go to the Western Regional Tournament in Pocatello ID, the largest USA kids wrestling tournament in the nation.
Zac was also able to qualify for the USA National Tournament. Fortunately the Nationals were held in Provo.
Zac wrestled 112 pounds for his shot at a national championship.
He was able to win the National Wrestling Championship in both Freestyle and Greco-Roman. He did it in a dominating fashion without a point being scored against him.
After a long nine month wrestling season, Zac would like to thank all the people in Monticello and Blanding who have helped him achieve his wrestling goals.
Many were mentioned in the article and many, many more were not.