Other schools even might not be as worried about the Cougars three-peating.
That has allowed some wrestlers to fly under the radar. One of those wrestlers is senior Garek Tauchen.
Tauchen, one of the three captains along with senior Sean Hubbard and junior Curtis Lampert, could have brought more varsity wrestling experience to the young Cougars squad.
This will be his third year as a letter winner on varsity and junior campaign ended in a way he’d like to forget with him missing the regional tournament due to mono.
“I was bummed out I didn’t get a chance to go to state because I lost 11-9 the year before to the guy who got third at regionals, so I was looking forward to going to state,” Tauchen said.
Tauchen started the year wrestling at 160 pounds but dropped down to 152 pounds so he could compete at the Reno Tournament of Champions. The drop down paid off.
He started the season with a 4-5 record, but now sits at 30-15 overall. He even pulled off an impressive run at the Sierra Nevada Classic.
Tauchen dropped into the consolation bracket after his second match but then pinned his next four opponents to stay alive. He claimed back-to-back decisions to cap a six-match winning streak before falling 4-3 in a match that would have given him a chance to wrestle for third place.
Instead, he placed sixth. But he is coming off a second-place finish at the Windsor King of the Mat tournament.
His record may be a little deceiving though. Three of his losses have come to ranked wrestlers from California and SSHS wrestling coach Joe Imelli said Tauchen has been competitive in most of his losses.
“He’s kind of under the radar. Not a lot of people are talking about him, which has been kind of nice,” Imelli said. “I think he’s done a tremendous job representing this team. He’s always coachable. You never see him with a bad disposition. He’s very well-mannered through everything. He’s extremely eager to work.”
Tauchen isn’t one of the most vocal wrestlers on the team, but he and Hubbard lead by example as drill partners.
“We’ve been lucky the past couple years with guys in that position,” Imelli said. “Last year, he and Jes Sylvester were very intense drill partners. If we could get the whole room like that, it would be great. That’s how he leads. This year it’s him and Sean. They’ve got a good intensity about them. He’s been invaluable to the team.”
Imelli believes Tauchen has a very good shot at qualifying for state at 152 pounds.
That’s Tauchen’s goal as well.
“I hope to go to state and hopefully place at state,” he said.