Green Valley senior wrestler Corey Brathor already has been to the state meet.
But this year, the Sunrise Region 112-pound champion has added motivation to perform well for the Gators: setting an example for his brother.
Brathor and younger brother Jared Brathor, a 103-pound freshman, will lead Sunrise Region champion Green Valley and its 10 state qualifiers into the Class 4A state tournament, which begins at 8:30 a.m. Friday at Spanish Springs High School in Sparks.
“He makes me proud. It’s his freshman year, and I have my little brother wrestling with me in my last year,” Corey Brathor said. “I think he’s wrestled great, and he’s still got another three years. He’s got a lot of potential to be better.”
Cimarron-Memorial, the Sunset champ and 2009 state title winner, will try to derail the Gators’ title hopes with eight state qualifiers, while defending state champion Las Vegas has seven qualifiers.
Northern Region co-champs Spanish Springs and McQueen qualified seven and six wrestlers.
Corey Brathor said his family’s performance has helped net results for the Gators this season, and he hopes to continue their breakout campaign.
“I think everybody goes off how we do,” Corey Brathor said. “My little brother and I are the first ones out to wrestle, and us winning gives spirit to the rest of our team, to feel like we’ve got this — and we can keep on winning and winning and winning. It lifts everybody up, gets them motivated to win and not worry about losing.”
The Gators placed third at state last year, and Green Valley’s four seniors never have finished outside the top 10.
Those seniors have combined with a strong sophomore class to provide punch for seventh-year Green Valley coach Jon Ferry’s team.
“Our youth has had its moments, ups and downs,” Ferry said. “I think we’ve been able to manage it, and some of our younger guys have been wrestling a long time, so that works to their advantage. They’ve been through various wars.”
Senior Nathan Thomas, who won the Sunrise Region’s 215-pound title, said the Gators have been progressing up the ladder for the past three years.
“We take small steps every year,” he said. “We sat through injuries last year, thought we were going to take (the region title). This year, we all went in healthy. We had a mission — and we accomplished it this year — to take down Vegas. They did lose a lot of seniors this year, but we’re humble with our victory.”
The Gators had lofty expectations at the beginning of the season. So far, they’ve exceeded them.
“At the beginning of the year, we set goals. We set division title, we set 10 guys going to state, and we set region title,” Thomas said. “We were confident going through, and we accomplished those three. So far, we have one more goal to accomplish: place top two at state. We are 100 percent on board with taking that.”
The next step would be the biggest of all. But Green Valley has set the bar high on this season and feels confident in vaulting over its next standard.
“This group has been one of the more together and team-oriented teams I’ve been around,” Ferry said. “I really respect that and really enjoy being around these wrestlers.”