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Junior Thunder Mountain wrestler Thomas Riley has high expectations for himself this season as well as the rest of the second-year Falcon wrestling squad. Riley, who wrestles at 130 pounds, said he expects the team to fare well at the upcoming Region V tournament and hopes to contend for a state title in his own weight class. He said while the grueling conditioning is the toughest part of wrestling, it all pays off in the end.
When did you start wrestling and what drew you to the sport?
"I started wrestling when I was in fourth grade at a club in Bixby, Okla. It keeps me out of trouble and off the streets, and I like the adrenaline rush on the mat, being in the spotlight in front of the crowd and making a name for yourself.
"Seeing my cousin, who wrestled in college, bring home a bunch of medals from wrestling tournaments and watching him place second at state made me really want to beat his records. Winning state is my ultimate goal."
Do you play any other sports?
"I played soccer for three years before I started wrestling, and then I also played football up until my freshmen year. But now I just do wrestling."
How do you spend your free time when you're not grappling on the mat?
"I lift weights every now and then to stay conditioned, hang out with friends and I like to go fishing. I also work at the movie theater. It's pretty fun. My brothers both worked there, so I'm following in their footsteps I guess."
What are your academic interests?
"I like science, especially biology. I like to dissect stuff and just learning what's inside of things like fish, frogs and the things we eat. It's exciting."
What are your plans after you graduate?
"I plan on going to college and wrestling at the Division II level in Oklahoma. I'm kind of interested in the University of Central Oklahoma.
"I like it there because I'm more of a warm weather person. I like the hot sun and it's kind of cold up here. There's also a lot more to do in Oklahoma and my mom's side of the family lives there."
What are your expectations for yourself and your team for the remainder of the season?
"We're taking 13 wrestlers to regions, which is a pretty big number for our team because it's only our second season. We're expecting to do really good there. I'm hoping to be in the top two and am expecting to compete in the state finals."