SPRINGDALE -- Logan Walton admitted to surprising himself when he claimed the Class 6A-7A state wrestling title in the 120-pound weight class a year ago.
The Springdale High wrestler was only a sophomore and came into the tournament as the fifth seed with double-digit losses. But Walton avenged losses in the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals to earn the title. Bulldogs wrestling coach Josh Rivers wasn't shocked at all and he's seen Walton's confidence swell this season.
At A Glance
Big West Conference Wrestling Tournament
At Bulldog Arena, Fayetteville
Notable: Action begins at 3:30 on Friday and continues on Saturday starting at 10 a.m. …. Finals scheduled for 3 Saturday afternoon. … Bentonville High is the defending Big West conference champions.
School: Springdale High
Notable: Defending Class 6A-7A state champion in the 132-pound weight class. … Currently has a record of 41-4 this season and has 97 career wins with a good chance of breaking the school record of 125 held by Tre Ponce, who is currently wrestling at Labette Community College in Parsons, Kan. … Won the Crain Automotive Tournament in Fayetteville and finished second at the Miami (Okla.) Wardog Invitational and People’s Bank of Seneca (Mo.) Tournament.
"I knew what he was capable of," Rivers said. "He's so competitive. When you say he can't do something, that just pushes him. He won last year and now he wants more.
"He's growing every time he gets on the mat. You see that when he goes to these big tournaments. He's like a little sponge. He just soaks it up. He's seen state champions out of state. He's seen state champs in-state. But he's still growing. He learns from his mistakes."
Walton has bumped up two weight classes this season to 132 and hasn't missed a beat. He's currently ranked No. 1 in Class 6A-7A with a 41-4 record. The junior has one tournament title to his credit this year, winning in Fayetteville, while taking second in tournaments in Miami, Okla., and Seneca, Mo.
He knocked off Brad Brown of Searcy, the defending 6A-7A champion at 126, in the finals of the Crain Automotive tournament in Fayetteville.
Walton won't compete in this weekend's Big West Conference tournament, which begins today in Fayetteville. He was concussed a week ago in practice, which forced him to miss Springdale High's first berth in school history in the dual state tournament.
Rivers said Walton will be ready for the state tournament Feb. 16-17 in Little Rock.
The 5-foot-7 Walton tried several other sports when he was younger, but decided to focus on wrestling as a 102-pound freshman. He recalled watching the movie "Vision Quest," which featured a high school wrestler.
"I remember seeing the singlets and thinking 'I don't want to wear those,'" Walton said. "At the time I was like 'no.'"
He now has a goal of wrestling in college.
Walton said that feeling when his hand was raised in the state finals was fleeting. He's not about to stop there with two more opportunities in his high school career.
"It was great at the time," Walton said. "It didn't last very long, but it was great at the time. The excitement goes away. It made me want more."
Rivers said Walton has become an unquestioned leader in the practice room. His success draws a certain amount of respect, but his work ethic is what stands out, Rivers said.
Rivers pointed out how Walton's competitive streak came out in a simple post-practice conditioning run.
"I said 'Logan will be the last guy to stop running,'" Rivers said. "After the six minutes, we'll just lay down and chill and listen to what's being said. Logan's still going. I said 'state champ's still going.' Then the other day when we did it again, everyone was trying to keep up with him, even after the six minutes.
"We went for almost 10 minutes. People were gassed and Logan was still going. He wanted to prove a point that he's going to out-work you. I feel like he pushes people. He's performing like that every day."
He's now searching for a little history. Walton hopes to become Springdale's first two-time state wrestling champion.
Sports on 02/09/2018
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