CHEYENNE – Ben Banville had to see where he was going before he could get where he wanted to go.
Like many young wrestlers, Banville, a junior on the Burns-Pine Bluffs team, struggled with keeping his head up when he shot for takedowns.
Compounding matters was the fact that wrestling fundamentals call for the defensive wrestler to push the aggressor’s head down as he shoots. Banville was making it easier for his foes to sprawl away from his shot attempts.
Banville has overcome that fundamental flaw. He is keeping his eyes fixed on the leg he is attacking, which has helped him score more textbook takedowns and pick up more victories.
Banville went 7-1 last week, with four of those wins coming during a third-place effort in the 195-pound bracket at the Carbon County Invitational in Hanna.
Those efforts also earned him Prep Athlete of the Week honors from WyoSports’ Cheyenne staff.
Banville credits the time he spent at a J Robinson Intensive wrestling camp for helping him keep his eyes on the prize.
“We worked a lot on getting good shots and keeping your head up so you can finish the shot,” said Banville, who is 26-8 on the season. “I have gotten progressively better at shooting, but I’m still working at it.
“I’m trying to get better with my form so I can finish better. I don’t want to take sloppy shots and not finish them.”
Not finishing shots often left Banville in bad positions.
“I used to either take a poor shot and get taken down, or I would wait until the other guy shot on me and try to defend and get around him,” said Banville, who was sidelined with a knee injury earlier this season.
“A lot of my wins this season have come because I can be aggressive and get the first takedown,” Banville added.
“Keeping my head up has made a huge difference.”
Finishing shots is the area Banville has improved upon most, but he also has gotten better in others, Broncs coach Dan Clayson said.
“He came into this season really confident because he had developed some skills that he was really close to getting before,” Clayson said. “He has put the finishing touches on them, and they have made him a much more complete wrestler.”
Burns is strong in the 170-, 182- and 195-pound weight classes. Junior Boe Clayson (170) is a two-time state medalist and is currently 31-6. Junior Kyle Thurin (182) is 29-12, while senior Lash Branigan (182) has posted a 26-13 mark.
Boe Clayson, Banville, Thurin and Branigan all go up against each other during live wrestling periods in practice.
“They’re in there battling with each other every day and competing with each other every day,” Dan Clayson said. “Some days they get frustrated because it’s hard to not have a day off every now and then.
“But they all know that hard work is benefitting them.”
Added Banville: “I love my practice group.”
Others recognized for their efforts include:
-- Boe Clayson, wrestling, Burns-Pine Bluffs: The junior 170-pounder went 4-1 on the week. That included a 2-1 mark and runner-up finish at the Carbon County Invitational.
-- Andrew Gauthier and Johnathan Vroman, wrestling, Cheyenne Central: Gauthier, a senior 182-pounder, went 2-0 on the week with two pins.
Vroman, a junior 138-pounder, also went 2-0 with a pin.
-- Jenna Goodrich, girls indoor track and field, Central: The senior won the long and triple jumps at the 307 Invitational in Laramie. She had a leap of 34 feet, 9.5 inches in triple and 16-10 in long.
Goodrich also was the runner-up in the 55-meter dash (7.71 seconds).
-- Walker Marshall, boys swimming, Cheyenne East: The senior won both the 50- and 100-yard freestyles at the South Last-Chance Qualifier.
-- Calysta Martinez, girls basketball, Cheyenne South: The sophomore averaged 15.5 points to help the Lady Bison go 1-1 on the week.
-- Erik Oliver, boys basketball, East: The senior guard averaged 21 points to help the Thunderbirds go 2-0.
-- Kammie Ragsdale, girls basketball, Pine Bluffs: The senior averaged 19 points to help the Lady Hornets go 2-1 on the week.
Jeremiah Johnke is the WyoSports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-633-3137. Follow him on Twitter at @jjohnke.