Truxton Troxell is having a blast, hanging out with his wrestling buddies every day — something that had been missing from his life the past two years.
After a standout freshman season that ended at the state tournament, Troxell disappeared from the sport, deciding not to wrestle his sophomore and junior seasons. He said he was tired of wrestling.
Troxell has returned to the mat room for his senior season, and he is glad he did.
“Everyday, coming to practice, I just realized how I wasted the last two years — I really did waste it, there is no way around it,” Troxell said. “I’m just trying to make amends.”
Troxell shed more than 45 pounds while commercial fishing during the summer. That motivated him to get back in the mat room for his final season.
“I’ve been having a great time. I wish it would never end,” Troxell said.
Troxell’s return couldn’t have come at a better time, as he enters the 40th Robin Hervey Tournament at Kodiak High School as the defending champion in the 215-pound field.
What, defending champion? That’s right. This is the first Robin Hervey Tournament since Troxell’s freshman season when he pinned Homer’s Taylor Finn in the first round of the championship match.
The 2017 Robin Hervey was canceled because inclement weather kept teams from flying to The Rock, while last year’s Hervey was canceled because of the 7.1 earthquake in Anchorage.
“This is the third annual 40th Robin Hervey,” joked Valladolid.
Valladolid has assembled a stellar field for the 40th Hervey, with Division I defending state champion South Anchorage, Houston, Grace Christian and Valdez. Altogether, 74 wrestlers — 24 from Kodiak — will be competing today and Saturday at KHS.
Wrestling today begins at 5 p.m., while Saturday’s matches start at 10:30 a.m., with finals scheduled for 5 p.m. (Valladolid said the finals could happen an hour early).
Not only is this going to be the first Hervey since 2016, but this is also Kodiak’s first home wrestling match since December 2017, when the school hosted the Northern Lights Conference Championships.
“I’m just happy that the whole team is going to be together for a competition and the whole town gets to see all the hard work they have been putting in ... their win-loss records might not show that, but they are improving every single weekend,” Valladolid said.
With the bulk of Kodiak’s roster being underclassmen, many of the team’s wrestlers have never grappled in front of their home fans.
Even though the team will be wrestling at home for the first time in nearly two years and for only the fourth time in the past five seasons, Troxell said it has been business as usual at practice.
“It is very strange, but nothing changes in the mat room — we are all keeping the same intensity, trying to improve as much as we can,” he said.
Valladolid said South fields four defending state champions, which includes Theo Cha, last year’s most outstanding wrestler at the state tournament.
“In my opinion, he is the all-around best wrestler in the state,” Valladolid said. “Every time I watch that kid, I appreciate his character. He is a really classy wrestler. After the match, you can’t tell if he won or lost — he doesn’t show a lot of emotion, but he does wrestle with a lot of energy.”
Kodiak duals South Anchorage at 7 p.m. today; the Bears begin the day with a dual against Grace at 5 p.m.
Senior Riley Birbilas is the only other Kodiak wrestler who has competed in a Robin Hervey.
“I’m just looking to have a few good matches for my family watching,” said Birbilas, whose grandfather is flying in from Colorado to attend the meet.
Troxell hopes to put on a good show for the home crowd but knows he has his work cut out for him as he lost to South’s 215-pounder at last week’s Lancer Smith tournament in Wasilla.
“I’m going to have to change something to defend my title,” he said.
Even if he doesn’t win a title, Troxell is just thrilled to be back in the mat room — not only to be wrestling but to be able to watch his younger sister, Olivia Troxell, dominant.
Olivia Troxell, a sophomore, won the girls’ 119-pound title at last week’s Lancer Smith and is Kodiak’s only returning state placer from a year ago.
“She is so good at wrestling. It is cool to see, but kind of strange that my sister won this tournament that I could never imagine winning,” Truxton Troxell said. “How much that says about her is mind-boggling ... I’m excited to see what she can do in the next few years.”