Earlier this season, Boise State sophomore wrestler Holden Packard lost six consecutive matches four of them by one or two points.
Every match is close, he said. Youve just got to be mentally right. Youve got to get everything under your control right and then you can truly work on wrestling.
Packard, a Mountain View High grad and three-time state champion, has bounced back with two straight wins and enters this weekend with a chance to be the No. 1 seed in the Pac-12 tournament, coach Greg Randall said. Hell need to win Friday night against Cal State Bakersfield (7 p.m.) and Sunday against Stanford (noon), both at Taco Bell Arena.
Im still kind of young, he said. Im kind of taking a beating every now and then, but Im coming on strong and I feel like Im starting to wrestle a lot better.
Packards wrestling career took a couple of wild turns on his way to becoming the Broncos starter at 165 pounds. He chose Navy over Boise State out of high school despite a longstanding relationship with Randall and assistant coach Chris Owens.
Weve been watching Holden since he was this high, Randall said, putting his hand at about 3 to 4 feet. It was kind of a no-brainer that we wanted him out of high school.
Packard chose to follow his brothers path to Navy, but stopped at the Naval Academy Preparatory School on his way. That year convinced him that Navy and the East Coast werent the right fit for him.
He returned home to attend Boise State.
Randall planned to redshirt him last season a plan that unraveled at seasons end, when 165-pound starter Michael Cuthbertson got injured and couldnt compete in the Pac-12 tournament.
Packard won a non-college tournament in San Francisco as a test run and Randall pulled his redshirt for the Pac-12 event.
We thought he could win it, Randall said. He was probably the best wrestler there. He just had a bad first match.
Packard finished third.
This year, hes taking the more straightforward path in his quest for a conference title. Hes 2-0 in Pac-12 duals with three to go all at home. Hes 8-12 overall.
He needs to start winning the close matches, Randall said. Hes lost a lot of those matches this year.