SCSD No. 2 Board Commends Western’s Wrestlers on Back-to-Back National Championships

SCSD No. 2 Board Commends Western’s Wrestlers on Back-to-Back National Championships

Western's Wrestling Team at the Sweetwater County School District No. 2 Board of Trustees meeting. SweetwaterNOW photo by Olivia Kennah.

GREEN RIVER – The Western Wyoming Community College wrestling team was recognized at the Sweetwater County School District No. 2 Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday. The team recently became back-to-back National Champions when they won the NJCAA Division 1 National Championship for the second year in a row in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

GRHS Athletic Director Anthony Beardsley introduced the team to the board and the audience with high praise for the team’s character and leadership.

They are a perfect example off the mat, in the community, on the mat, of what real men and leaders are made of.

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– Anthony Beardsley

Head wrestling coach and graduate of GRHS, Art Castillo then took the stand to talk about his team. Castillo also won the NJCAA Division 1 Coach of the Year title for the second consecutive year. Castillo also received his NJCAA Coaches Association Hall of Fame award in 2022.

Castilo praised his team for their well-roundedness, as they were not only the national champions, but they were also tenth in the country in academics. While commending this achievement, he thinks they could have done even better and hopes to see an improvement in academics next year. He went on to praise the men that they are becoming and how well the program has been at developing not just good wrestlers but good men.

I think it’s easy to get caught up in the titles and the shiny things but I always say if there was a way or a metric to be able to rate these individuals that come out of our program, I surely think we would be the best every year. Just really great young men and for me, that’s the best part of this whole thing.

– Art Castillo

Western did not just finish the year number one, but they were ranked number one for the entire season which is a rare feat not many teams have achieved. They did this while battling through injuries and sickness which led to a few tough dual losses.

Western wrestler and Pinedale High School graduate, Cody Phelps, won the Ernest B. Gould Most Outstanding Wrestler Award this year after he became a national champion at 133 lbs. Phelps was unable to attend the meeting due to a schedule conflict with class.

River Wardle was in attendance at the school board meeting. At Nationals he was awarded the Bruce Traphagen Award and had the most pins in the least amount of time at the tournament. He did this after drawing the number one seed but was sick leading into the tournament. The team had to run almost two pounds off of him the day prior and he would win eight straight matches and even scored more points than Phelps even though Wardle didn’t win his weight class.

Chairman Steve Core finished off the presentation by reading a letter of recommendation Tom Wilson wrote for Castillo back in 2012. In the letter, Wilson stated, “If I were asked to list the top ten students who have left an impression on me through my 33 years as an educator, Art Castillo would be on that list.” Wilson’s letter continued, “It did not happen by his superior athletic accomplishments, though he had plenty, nor did it happen through some significant moment, though he’s had plenty of those as well. His lasting impression was left by his determination and leadership.”

In the letter, Wilson also stated that Castillo should be in a position to influence the youth and that he has battled through so much to become the man he is today.

Many GRHS student-athletes were also recognized at the meeting for being all-state award winners. Check out more on that here.