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By JJENSEN, 01/10/20, 9:00PM MST


All-Star Primer: Garcia-Ward


Kyison Garcia was a freshman a lot of people in Utah had high expectations for and he’s done nothing but deliver. Like many freshmen, pundits wondered how he would fare taking on big upperclassman. Throughout this season he has proved that his technique and strategy is enough to negate a lot of size and strength advantages held by the upperclassmen in the weight class. In the All-Star Dual, Garcia is taking on Bear River senior, Trent Ward who brings size, strength and aggression to the table to test Garcia.

Garcia’s Crafty Offense

Garcia transitioned quite effortlessly into high school wrestling which shouldn’t come as a surprise considering his body of work entering his freshman campaign. However, there’s always speculation and he put a lot of doubts to bed in his first two weekends. He started by winning the L.IT. and taking home the OW award for the lower weight classes. The following week, he traveled to Reno and finished in seventh and defeated opponents with visible size advantages.


Garcia is lightning quick on his feet. He is in perpetual motion and looking to score. He does a good job of circling in both directions. When he does this, opponents will sometimes look to follow him rather than cut him off. By doing so, they will sometimes take too heavy of a step that Garcia will time to hit low singles and finish by coming out the backside. Garcia’s motion also creates a lot of opportunities for snap downs. He will change levels quickly, fake an attack that forces his opponent to jump his hips back and then take advantage of their head being too far in front of their hips and snap them to the mat. From here, Garcia just hustles. He will circle hard one way and then hard the other way, while his opponent tries to keep up, he will change directions and attack a hamstring where he can finish with doubles, singles or a nearside cradle. He beautifully chains things together with a pace that’s difficult to match.


The chain wrestling doesn’t end after he scores takedowns. From the top position, Garcia is great at trapping wrists and scoring with tilts on both sides of the body. If his opponent attempts to control one of his hands, he simply jumps sides and catches their wrist with his free hand. From there, he can score with the very popular and effective roll-through tilt. With this tilt, he works through the process. Before he rolls, he makes sure the wrist is pulled across and that his elbow with his top hand is wedged between the legs. When he rolls, he catches his opponent in his hips under control to make the referees job of counting near-fall points easier.


Freshmen typically struggle on bottom when they make the jump to high school. Garcia came in well prepared. He can pair together change overs, sit outs and knee slides to get to his feet. When he gets to his feet, he does a good job of staying active and not being a stationary object, that opponents can return to the mat.

Ward’s Effective Minimalism 

Trenton Ward has been around for a long time. Last season, he was a state finalist with 44 wins on the year. This season, he’s undefeated. He was undefeated at the Syracuse Scuffle, he pinned his way through the Evanston Invitational and he pinned his way through the Las Vegas. He is a pinner. This season alone he’s collected a pile of pins in under a minute. He starts fast and wrestles with a lot of intensity like many other Bear River wrestlers before him.


Ward is what falls into a category of wrestlers I refer to as Effective Minimalists. Effective Minimalists figure out a few key techniques and principles that they drill to become second nature. They often couple that instinct with other traits such as being physical, maintaining solid position and firing off attempt after attempt. We’ve seen many Effective Minimalists ascend to very high levels. On his feet, Ward likes double legs, high-Cs and the occasional fireman’s carry. He will hand-fight hard, with the intention of getting opponents to try and control one of his hands, which creates an opening for him to shoot underneath them and finish big. He also does a good job of persisting through bad positions if he gets extended on a shot. He’ll keep a tight grip, and work through the position to come out on top.

Defensively, Ward does a good job of keeping his head in the way of his opponents. If someone changes their level, he matches it. This seemingly simple concept is a huge skill to have. Against the giant Nick Rodriguez, Pat Downey just kept his head in the way and Rodriguez couldn’t get close to his legs. Ward is often the bigger man in his matches, so shooting through his head is a big challenge for the opposition.


As we mentioned prior, Ward can pin people fast. On his record he has a 23 second pin, a 30 second pin and a 22 second pin. This is due in large part to his ultra-fast crossface cradle. After he breaks an opponent down, he will circle to one side and release his pressure, so they build their base. As soon as they come up, he snatches the crossface, rips their head toward their legs, locks his hands and jumps over for a roll through/suicide finish. It happens in seconds and is a big threat to anyone underneath him.


On bottom, Ward isn’t quite as active as he is on his feet or from the top position. He does a good job of keeping his base and waiting for lapses in pressure. When he feels those lapses, he will look to stand up or even switch to score and get back to where he wants to be.

What to Watch For:

In this match, we have a true freshman sensation looking to be a pioneer and set the standard for a new high school and a senior who has one more opportunity to become a state champion. On paper, Garcia holds the speed and technique advantages while Ward has the edge in terms of strength and size.

Look for Garcia to be a matador in this match up. Ward comes forward hard and looks to brawl in the ties. We could see Garcia use fakes and evasive footwork to draw out shots from Ward to get to his patented front-headlock series. Ward will look to make Garcia carry his weight throughout this match to leverage his advantages. Garcia has a deep bag of tricks and might need to pull out several of them to overcome Ward’s size and aggression.

Come on out to the UCCU Center Tuesday to watch these fantastic wrestlers (and several others) scrap.