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Prep wrestling: Vision Quest
West Hall grappler 25 wins away from No. 200
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West Hall High wrestling coach Rod Galvan looked at senior wrestler Colby Yates after the Spartans wrestled against Blessed Trinity two weeks ago and knew something was wrong.

Galvan was baffled at what could be bothering his star 130-pound grappler.

Yates had just won his match 16-1. Most wrestlers would be quite content with a resounding win, but for some reason Yates was very shaken.

Yates’ anger peaked his coach’s interest, so he asked Yates what was bothering him.

"I just looked at Colby and could tell he was steaming mad," Galvan said with a laugh. "And he said ‘I should have pinned the guy.’

"So I told Colby if that’s your biggest problem, then you’re going to have a great season."

It’s not that Yates is being unrealistic with his expectations. He realizes he’s not going to pin everyone.

It’s just the mentality of a perfectionist on the wrestling mat.

He expects nothing less than to win each and every match. And Yates is looking to fine tune all the aspects of his grappling skills in his chase for a state title in his senior season. This compact wrestler has already assembled quite a resumé is his career for the Spartans.

He’s currently 19-0 on the season and is aiming for an undefeated season. Yates already has gotten over a couple of big humps this season with wins against Class AAA No. 1-ranked Gilmer’s Dale Becker in the first match of the season and then later against the Bobcats’ Mike Mooney in overtime.

Yates is ready to make the next step in his career. Yates already has a pair of Area 7-AAA and Hall County titles to his name. In state, he placed second as a freshman, and then came in third as a sophomore and junior.

Most wrestlers would be happy with such prestigious accomplishments during their career. But Yates only uses his past accomplishments to bolster his expectations for his final season of high school wrestling.

"The thing I’ve worked on most is not overlooking any of my opponents," Yates said. "I want to wrestle to my full potential.

"I remember as a sophomore I lost to a guy at state from Riverwood that I won against by a pin and a technical fall earlier in the season. I realized I can’t take anyone for granted."

Yates (175-26 in his career) is also closing in on school history as the first West Hall wrestler to hit 200 wins in his career. He’s very methodical with regards to hitting the 200-win plateau, acknowledging he has four more weeks to earn 25 wins.

But Yates feels like he has a legitimate shot to hit that mark.

"I think it’s definitely possible," Yates said.

He can pick up five wins toward that mark with a good showing this weekend at the Spartan Slam Holiday Duals at West Hall. This event features Chestatee, North Hall, Apalachee, Holy Innocents, Union Grove, Pickens, West Forsyth, Elbert County, Towns County and Greene County. According to Galvan, it’s the first dual in this tournament format in the state of Georgia.

And it would only be appropriate for Yates to hit the 200 win mark at the Area 7-AAA Duals. He won No. 100 at Area 7-AAA as a sophomore, and No. 150 at Area last season. Galvan hopes the Spartans have enough dual tournaments scheduled for Yates to reach this illustrious milestone.

Next weekend, the Spartans travel to Central Gwinnett for the Knightmare Duals, followed by the Hall County Duals on Jan. 3-5 and the Area 7-AAA Duals on Jan. 11-12.

"I hope he makes it to 200," West Hall senior and Yates training partner Chan Morris said. "He works so hard to be the best wrestler he can, and is non stop working on improving as a wrestler."

As a freshman, Yates told Galvan’s father Rodrigo Galvan, a well-regarded coach in Chicago, that he wanted to hit the 100 mark in his career. According to Galvan, his father planted a seed in Yates, telling the young wrestler he wanted to go for 200 in his career.

Yates has since been full-throttle in his pursuit of excellence as a four-year varsity wrestler.

As a one-sport athlete, Yates has the luxury to train year-round. Whether it’s at West Hall, the Wrestling Center at Gwinnett, the Wrestling Center of Marietta, USA wrestling or at last summer’s prestigious Super 32 in Greensboro, N.C., he’s always on the mat.

Even when Yates doesn’t have anyone to wrestle against, he can drill on a dummy in the West Hall wrestling room.

"I always want to be the best wrestler I can be, and I’m not going to settle for less," Yates said.

"He’s in love with the sport and very competitive," Galvan, the Spartans fifth-year coach, added. "He’s the most dedicated wrestler I’ve ever coached at West Hall."

And Yates can hold his own in the weight room too. To be honest, he’s kind of a gym rat.

With such a small frame, he’s still able to put up some impressive numbers with a 190-pound power clean, 205-pound bench press and a 285-pound squat. Yates says Morris will push him to lift more in the weight room if he’s not getting challenged enough.

Their relationship has paid off as Morris is having a strong season to at 160 pounds with a 17-2 record currently.

"I think we help each other out a lot," Morris said. "I know if Colby’s not doing something right on the mat, he’s going to work as hard as he needs to correct it."

Yates’ conditioning wouldn’t be complete without an offseason training schedule that includes lots of push ups, sit ups, running steps, dragging a tractor tire on a weight belt, and shadow wrestling. Yates says he doesn’t particularly enjoy the workouts, but its just part of becoming a peak performer.

Yates also has another training tool to improve his performance outside of physical conditioning. He has every match recorded on video so he can go back and watch it and meticulously critique the strengths and flaws in his performance. He says he spends about 2-3 hours each week watching video of himself wrestling.

Yates also practices his stance each night in the mirror.

The by-product of his never-ending work has been improved foot work this season. Morris says that Yates is also much quicker now from the neutral position.

"Colby hits a move now where I just say, ‘Where did that come from?’" Galvan said. "He’s a lot more physical of a wrestler now, and has a lot more styles."

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