2023-24 Wrestling Preview: Broncos focused on process goals, entering new season with championship mindset

Winter Sports, Wrestling

Trey Hunter

November 30, 2023
Daegan Reyes (Sr.) wrestles during a dual last season. Reyes is set to lead the Broncos into the 2023-24 season, wrestling at 157 pounds. He reached the consolation finals in the 2023 Class 6A State Tournament last year. (Photo by Shelly Holinsworth / Freelance Action Photography)

When Will Delk addresses goals with his team, they don’t just sit down and create a checklist.

They don’t break out an overhead projector and go over slides or definitions.

The Mustang coach sends out a questionnaire to all wrestlers at the beginning of the year. Every weight class, male and female.

It helps to get better acquainted with each athlete, but it also creates an avenue to help figure out exactly what they hope to accomplish during the season. Individually and for the team.

“It’s about the process, not the outcome,” said Delk, who enters his second season at MHS. “Anyone who has ever been successful has set goals. We want to educate them on what that really means.”

The Broncos discuss the difference between lofty goals and process goals. Delk preaches patience and change – attributes he wants to see the program accomplish as a whole. He doesn’t want his wrestlers to be afraid of failure.

“Each kid is different,” he said. “Whether it’s a kid just trying to get better on his or her feet or trying to get better at counter defense… We even have a handful whose goal is to be a state champion.

“No matter what the goal is, you have to set it and go out and try to reach it. And if you don’t, that doesn’t make you a failure. We want them to have lofty goals and then set process goals in order to accomplish those things. It’s all about the process. We focus on that more than any outcome.”

The Broncos continue their rise under Delk in 2023-24, entering the new season with two returning state qualifiers, experience, talent, and stability.

Daegan Reyes (Jr.) and Javin Douglas (Sr.) lead the way for Mustang after making appearances at Jim Norick Arena last February.

Reyes, who went 29-12 in 2023-24, is expected to start at 157 pounds after reaching the State Tournament consolation finals at 150 as a sophomore. He was the regional runner-up at the toughest weight class in the state and according to his coach, the light middleweight is ready to take the next step.

“He has completely shifted his mindset,” Delk said. “Finishing fifth at 150 last year was a massive accomplishment considering how many nationally ranked kids he was up against.

“He went undefeated in the preseason and went up against some really tough guys… He’s really looking good right now.”

Douglas suffered through a tough outcome at state last year, getting caught in the wrestle-in match after building a 10-point lead. However, Delk says that loss has only made the senior bantamweight better and more motivated for his final season.

“He really had a great year, but didn’t have the finish he wanted,” Delk said. “He got caught in a bad spot in the regional, too. But now he is back and is more motivated as a senior. We expect him to have a big year.”

Douglas, who went 31-12 as a junior, will be wrestling at 132 pounds. He qualified for state last season at 120 and at 113 as a sophomore.

Javin Douglas (Sr.) is a two-time state qualifier for the Broncos, entering his senior season as the starter at 132 pounds. Mustang’s bantamweight is expected to have a big year according to coach Will Delk. (Photo by Shelly Holinsworth / Freelance Action Photography)

Sam Pritz is another wrestler Delk is excited to have back in the room.

The senior light heavyweight was just one win away from reaching state in the heavyweight class as a junior, going 23-21 overall.  Delk said Pritz is moving much better this season and won’t have to lose a lot of weight to stay at 215.

“Everybody wants 20 guys like Sam Pritz in their room,” Delk said. “He is a yes sir, no sir kid and never questions anything. He had a really good last year, and we expect even more out of him this season. He, Daegan, and Javin wrestled at the national level in the offseason and that has helped him open some eyes.”

Delk is also excited to see what his team can do at 106, 113, and 120 pounds.

Javin’s younger brother, Treston, opens the season as the starter at 106. Delk said the freshman light flyweight has competed well in the preseason, including a win at Tuttle and a third place showing at Yukon.

Vance Smith, who Delk says will make noise at 113 pounds, comes in as a junior high state champion. Jace Reed (Fr.) is also expected to wrestle between 106 and 113.

Hank Bullard went 13-18 at 113 as a freshman and will be moving up to 120 as a sophomore. He is battle-tested and getting better each month according to Delk.

“We feel pretty good with those guys,” he said. “They are a little inexperienced at the varsity level besides Hank, but they have worked hard during the offseason, and we think they are going to be big for us all year.”

Two juniors have earned spots in the lineup: Stanley Zgrzepski and Blake Davis.

Zgrzepski has shown big improvement according to Delk and will be starting at 144 pounds. He got the nod after a strong showing in the preseason.

Davis moves to heavyweight after going 7-10 at 215 as a sophomore. He made the decision to move up a class during the offseason and is set for a big year.

Multiple Broncos could see action at 126, 138, 150, 165, 175, and 190 pounds.

Jayceon Garcia (So.) will get time at 126 as Delk and his staff would like to take advantage of the sophomore’s raw athletic ability. There are others around Garcia that could vie for time as well.

Jaren Peterson (So.), Caleb Moates (Fr.), and Finnegan Moses (Jr.) will all compete at 138 pounds.

Matt Hiller (Sr.), who moved to Mustang from Colorado during the offseason, and Flynn Brandrup (Jr.) will both compete for time at 150.

Jesse Rios (Jr.) and Carlos Castillo (So.) are both workhorses said Delk. The duo is battling it out for time at 165 pounds.

Mustang’s staff is hoping to use Nathan Pritz (Jr.) at 175 to have a consistent wrestler at that weight. Delk said Pritz walks around just over 180 pounds but could be an asset if he cuts down.

Pritz could wrestle at 190, but Mustang is hoping to also get Max Bacca action as a freshman. Delk said the underclassman has plenty of talent and they want to get him as many matches as they can.

“We have a ton of kids in the room right now,” Mustang’s coach said. “We also have a lot of kids moving up through the middle school ranks as well. It’s exciting to see how everyone is buying in to what we want to build at all levels.

“The kids are working hard and ready to get going. We’re just excited to see how each kid continues to develop and see them work to reach those goals. It’s an exciting time for our program.”

Delk is also excited about Mustang’s girls team.

The Broncos feature over 50 girls wrestlers within the program, a number that continues to rise since adding the division.

Averee Hooper (So.), Rebekah Vadekekut (Jr.), and Samantha Barton (Jr.) have battled it out in the preseason for time at 100 pounds. Hooper will get the nod, but Delk is impressed with all three wrestlers.

Navaeh Kent (Sr.) is back for the Broncos and will likely wrestle at 110 and 115 pounds as a senior. Coach Will Delk is excited about the growth of Mustang’s girls program. (Photo by Shelly Holinsworth / Freelance Action Photography)

DeKadence Theiot (So.) and Nevaeh Kent (Sr.) will likely rotate between 110 and 115 pounds while Molly Hanes (Jr.) will hold down the 120-pound spot.

Desten Pierce is expected to see action at 125 pounds while Lacia Meely will wrestle between 135 and 140. Both freshmen are “tough” according to Delk and have a bright future.

Cheyenne Reyman (Sr.) is back at 145 pounds while Rayann Gragg (Jr.) is back at 155. Also, watch out for freshmen Georgia Horn and Mahaylie Parada, who were strong at the junior-high level, and newcomer Emeli Castillo (Jr.).

“The overall growth of the girls program is incredible,” Delk said. “We have a lot of really, really tough girls who put in just as much work as any of our guys. They are in for a big year as a team and as individuals.”

Mustang’s surge in wrestling overall started a few years ago under former coach Brian Picklo, who helped kickstart development at the youth level.

Now, Delk has gone even further, developing a feeder program for the school district. Last year, 50 kids signed up. That number ballooned to 180 kids this year, showing the overall support and interest the city and district has for the sport.

“It’s great because when you go to one of the practices or tournaments, you look up and see former D1 wrestlers who are actually just watching as dads now,” Delk said. “We have people in this community that want to be there and have their own history with wrestling. That is huge. It shows how much the parents and kids have bought in.”

The Mustang Broncos return as defending district champions this season and are now grouped with Norman North, Putnam City, and Bedlam rival Yukon for the District Duals on Jan. 23 at Norman North. (Photo provided)

The Broncos return as defending district champions, leading to an appearance in the 2023 Class 6A Dual State Tournament.

This year, Mustang is grouped with Norman North, Putnam City, and Bedlam rival Yukon.

“One of our goals is to repeat as district champs and go to Dual State,” Delk said. “It’s not going to be easy. All three teams are tough, but we should be right there.”

The Broncos fell to Bixby in their first dual of the season Tuesday night. They return to action this weekend in the GE Invitational at Gardner Edgerton High School in Gardner, Kan.

The team’s first home dual is Dec. 12 against Putnam City West.

The Broncos host duals against Piedmont (Dec. 12) and Tuttle (Jan. 1), but their remaining matches are on the road. They travel to Guthrie (Dec. 7), Choctaw (Jan. 11), Deer Creek (Jan. 16), and Westmoore (Dec. 18).

They will wrestle in the Mid-America Nationals in Enid (Dec. 8), the Geary Invitational (Jan. 1), the COAC Tournament at Southmoore (Jan. 12), and the Clinton Hub (Jan. 26). District Duals are scheduled for Jan. 23 at Norman North.

Dual State is set for Dec. 9 in Enid followed by Regionals on Dec. 16 and the State Tournament Dec. 23 at the State Fairgrounds.

“It’s going to be a grind,” Delk said. “We like what we’ve seen out of the kids in the preseason and in practice and think we can make some noise.

“It’s all about having that championship mindset. We’ve set our goals, now it’s time to go out and accomplish them.”

Published by trey hunter

Trey Hunter is the owner and publisher of the Mustang Sports Review. He graduated from Mustang High School in 2006 before graduating from the University of Central Oklahoma with a journalism degree in 2011. He has covered Mustang sports for multiple publications as well as high school sports and professional basketball for other outlets. Contact Trey for story ideas or reach out with information. PHONE: (405) 659-9898 EMAIL: TreyHunter1987@gmail.com

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