Hazen grapplers have high hopes this year | SPORTS PREVIEW

With only one wrestler lost to graduation and three state participants back on the mat this season, the Hazen wrestling team is looking to improve over last season's surprise run at the league title.

Though they fell just short of the top spot last year, Coach Rory Magana said his team "wrestled above our level" but are ready to show that their success was no fluke.

"Our returners are all very talented and are very solid wrestlers," Magana said in an email.

In total, the Highlanders are bringing four state participants back tot he mat this season. Zach Moore, Malik Haythorne and Jairo Barahona all made the tournament last year and Derek Nichols was a participant in 2012. All four are back this seaosn.

However, Magana said Hazen is dealing with injuries to key wrestlers this season, including Erik Johannessen, who may be out for the season. In addition Cole Thatcher suffered an injury during the freestyle season and is out until mid-December.

The goel this year is a league title and the coach has a plan for how to get there.

"We want to outwork our opponents," he said. "Great things happen when you work harder than your opponent."

This season, Hazen is also hosting its third annual PANCAN double dual meet on Jan. 17 to raise money and awareness for pancreatic cancer research.

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