Luke Sloan already has the wrestling pedigree and high school success, but it’s not enough.
After making it to the state tournament as a freshman a year ago, the Vandegrift sophomore has his focus fixed on the podium this time around. According to wrestlingtexas.com, he’s the No. 7 wrestler in the 126-pounds division in the state.
“I’d like to be pretty high in the state,” Luke said. “I’ve worked hard and put everything into it. I think I’m up there with the top guys. (The ranking) doesn’t matter at this point, I just try to do my best. I’m having fun out there and I’m working hard.”
At 113-pounds a year ago, Sloan was the district champion as a freshman. At the state tournament at the Berry Center in Cypress, he finished 1-2 and missed out on a podium position.
His dad — current Cedar Park principal and former Vandegrift assistant principal — wrestled at George Mason University in Virginia and said it’s a lot of fun to watch his son do something he did in high school and college.
“I’m just really proud because I know how much work goes into it,” John said. “Not everybody can do it because it requires so much. For me, I’m just proud of the work and commitment he puts in. It’s something I love and I’ve been passionate about for so many years.”
Luke won the Centex tournament on Jan 6 after finishing third at the Texas Outlaw Tournament in Allen on Dec. 23. He finished in first place wrestling up a weight class at 132-pounds at the Hill Country Invitational on Dec. 16.
The Vipers are 15-1 in dual meets this season after the El Paso State duals last weekend and defeated Shoemaker 70-3 at home last Wednesday night.
Vandegrift had five wrestlers at the state tournament last season and Sloan and then-sophomore James Clarkson. As a team, the Vipers finished 18th in the state.
“Last year we might have had more talent, but this year’s team works hard and wrestles hard,” Luke said. “If we say we’re better than someone, we’re going to go out and beat them. We don’t care who is it.”
Luke said all the hard work he puts in training motivates him. John is pleased to see his son succeed in an individual sport.
“The difference is it’s a one-on-one sport,” John said. “In wrestling, for the most part, you’re by yourself on the mat. You win or lose and it’s on you. It’s a humbling sport, but it brings out a lot of character.”
Next up for the Vipers is a dual meet at San Antonio Reagan on Friday on Saturday. They then face Lake Travis at a dual meet on Jan. 25. Vandegrift hosts the district tournament on Feb. 8 and 9 and the state tournament is from Feb. 23-24 at the Berry Center in Cypress.
This year’s team is younger, but the lessons that the seniors, including Riley Jacops, who now wrestles at Columbia University, have left their mark on the Vipers.
“At first, our guys were skeptical, but they saw other guys on the team excelling in it and it pushed them to want to excel too,” Luke said. “They saw them push it and it made our underclassmen work harder and then we got to know that we can be the best.”