BY RYAN HOWE
JEROME – The Times-News co-Wrestler of the Year wasn’t sure he wanted to wrestle his senior year.
Among other things, Jerome’s Zach Argyle struggled with the side effects from a spiral break in his arm, the plate and screws that held his left humerus together, and the mental scars left from a devastating wrestling injury a year and a half earlier, which kept him out of sports altogether his junior year.
“I’ve wrestled forever, but at the same time when I broke my arm that was big deal and I had some flashbacks from it and it bothered me a little bit at the beginning of the season,” Argyle said. “It made it really tough.”
The news was hard enough to take.
“It wasn’t fun. When I was in the doctor’s office and he said I would be out for a year, it devastated me,” Argyle said. “I didn’t know what to do. I was depressed that whole day. It didn’t really sink in until the summer when football season rolled around and I was stuck there sitting on the sidelines.”
Upon returning to the gridiron his senior year, Argyle was a first-team all-Great Basin Conference linebacker, helping the Tigers reach the 4A state semifinals.
But returning to the wrestling mat this winter wasn’t as easy. By Christmas break, he wanted to quit. Luckily, his older brother Riley was back home visiting from college. They headed to the Jerome wrestling room to drill.
“At the end I was kind of telling him how I’m not real excited for the wrestling season and I’ve got the flashbacks, my arm bothering me and a bunch of other things that were making me kind of bummed to keep wrestling,” Argyle said. “He sat down for an hour and talked to me about how I need to stick with it, it’s my last year, I need to just work my butt off, do the best that I can do, just so that I’m able to say I finished the season.”
Riley, who was a state finalist during his high school wrestling days, repeated the same words over and over: “Just have fun with it.”
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So Argyle stuck with it. A few weeks after Christmas he had a turning point. In the 182-pound finals of the Red Halverson Invitational, he lost 3-0 to Jackson Cook of Bonneville.
“At the Red, I wrestled like I had normally wrestled, and I don’t know what happened but I just felt like I couldn’t do anything to him,” Argyle said. “That was the first loss of the season that really bummed me out. I told myself that can’t happen again and if I see this kid again I’ve definitely got to redeem myself.”
Sure enough, Argyle got another shot at Cook in the semifinals of the state tournament. This time, the Tiger wrestler controlled the match by 4-2 decision to advance to the finals.
“Winning that felt like the match of my life,” said Argyle.
That Friday night before Saturday’s finals, Argyle spoke with brother Riley on the phone. His advice? The same it had been two months earlier.
“Just have fun with it,” he said.
“He congratulated me for getting into the finals and just saying when I get out there, I’ve got to let it all hang, it’s your last match, there’s nothing to hold back,” Zach Argyle said. “You’ve got nothing to lose, just let it all out and just do your best.”
The championship match was no contest. Argyle whipped Killian Estes of Lakeland 9-0 to finish his senior season with a 31-3 record.
“I always had the thought in the back of my head that it was possible (to be a state champion),” Argyle said, “but I never actually thought I’d be there.”
Fortunately, his older brother believed all along.