The End of an Era is Just the Beginning

A wrestling season recap as coaches retire, the team changes and history is made.

In 2018, wrestling Head Coach Tim Hill, Assistant Coach Matt Opheim and Assistant Coach Kevin Medina arrived at Rock Canyon, finding a wrestling program with fewer than 10 wrestlers, and 20 years of losing season records.

Four years later, the coaching trio, joined by Assistant Coach Kyle LeValley, ended the season with a fully-stacked team roster and two back-to-back winning seasons, making this season the best the school has ever seen.

Head Coach Tim Hill and Assistant Coach Matt Opheim watch varsity wrestling captain Sammy Mobly ’23 wrestle in the final State match Feb. 18. Two coaches per wrestler were allowed on the mat for each match. “State is very exciting. It’s the culmination of everything, the very end, the best of the best,” Hill said. “It’s tough when somebody gets to the finals and loses the final match, but with what the referees say and the time that ran out and the way things played out, in my mind, Sammy is a State Champion. It just didn’t come out that way as far as the final results.” (photo by Claire Bauer)

“Let’s put it this way: when I was [coaching] at Mountain Vista, we had beaten Rock Canyon 82 to zero. Rock Canyon had what, seven, eight kids on the team?” Hill said. “So, when I came here, I called [the other coaches] up, and I had to tell them to listen to me for a few minutes before even answering. I never thought in a million years I would come here and coach, but it just kinda came together. Even though in the past it hadn’t been done, I told them, I know we could build a successful program here. They jumped on board.”

Previously, Hill has coached a total of 26 years, including time in college, 14 years at Norwalk High School in Iowa, then six years at Mountain Vista High School (MVHS) before taking a 12-year break from coaching and finally becoming a Jaguar.

“I wanted to finish my career and retire in education as a coach. I still had some more to give to wrestling, but [at MVHS] I became an administrator. When I became an assistant principal, I couldn’t also coach at that point. So that’s when I changed schools, and came here,” Hill said.

The season began with practices Nov. 14, 2022, followed by a scrimmage hosted by Cherokee Trail High School wrestling Nov. 26 and the first tournament at Arapahoe High School Dec. 3. The team’s first dual meet ended with a 48-22 W, upsetting Ponderosa High School, the second ranked team in the state Dec. 6.

“My goals were typically to help kids reach as close to the max of their potential as possible, and being able to put yourself in the athletes shoes regularly and set aside that ego as a coach is really important,” LeValley said.

“You have to be relatable, and understand, ‘what’s gonna motivate this person? Why are they here?’ And keep your composure with respect to that. It’s easy to get frustrated based on my own beliefs or my own limitations, and I don’t know that that’s productive. We had a wide spectrum of people with varying goals and objectives, varying levels of commitment. Some people did a really good job, and some people really underachieved.”

Varsity wrestler Allen Hurd ‘26 grabs at the opposing ThunderRidge High School (TRHS) wrestler at the annual Battle of the Ranch quad meet Jan. 26. Hurd wrestled in the 113 weight class. “We only lost by three points, which didn’t feel great. It came down to a couple matches,” Hurd said. “Most of our good [wrestlers] are seniors, so it’s not the best to see them all leave, but we’ll make it.” (photo by Claire Bauer)

Led by team captains Alex McGowan ‘23, Kaden Rahne ‘23 and Sammy Mobly ‘23, the wrestlers continued through their season. On Jan. 26, the Jaguars took on MVHS, Highlands Ranch (HRHS) and ThunderRidge (TRHS) at the annual Battle of the Ranch quad meet. 

“The only regret I have is we’ve never won Battle of the Ranch,” Hill said. “Back in about 2003, I created it–and created the traveling trophy–so when I came here, that was one of my goals, and unfortunately, we came very, very close to pulling it off but it didn’t happen. You don’t get everything you want, so the teams that are now going to be after me, they’ll have to achieve that goal.”

Varsity wrestler Chase Nohavec ’23 cries after losing his match against a ThunderRidge opponent at Battle of the Ranch Jan. 26. Nohavec was the last match of the night and lost 2-1 in the second period. (photo by Claire Bauer)

The varsity team beat TRHS, then beat HRHS 54-20. The meet ended with the wrestlers losing to MVHS 36-33 and taking second place overall.

“We only lost by three points, which didn’t feel great. It came down to a couple matches,” varsity wrestler Allen Hurd ‘26 said. “Most of our good [wrestlers] are seniors, so it’s not the best to see them all leave, but we’ll make it.”

Two days later, on Jan. 28, the teams competed at League, hosted at Legend High School. Varsity ranked eighth out of eleventh, while JV took second in JV League.

The following week, Senior Night was hosted in the home gym against Valor Christian High School (VCHS). The varsity and JV teams honored 14 seniors at their last home meet by displaying senior photo boards and announcing facts about each wrestler as they walked out, accompanied by a family member or friend. The JV team beat VCHS 24-21, and varsity won 42-32. 

JV wrestler Mathew Kochevar ’23 walks with his mother during wrestling’s Senior Night celebrations before the dual meet against Valor Christian High School (VCHS) Jan. 31. The JV team beat VCHS 24-21, and varsity won 42-32. “Wrestling teaches so many lessons about sportsmanship, hard work, and dedication,” Kochevar said. “There is nothing more satisfying than a hard-fought match where you go back and forth with your opponent for six minutes and get your hand raised at the end. Everything in that moment stops and you know in your heart that you are the better wrestler, that you put in more work, and that you deserve it.” (photo by Claire Bauer)

“Senior night was a lot of fun. I am proud to represent Rock Canyon and it was nice to be recognized under the lights in front of our home crowd. The celebrations were very well put together and the night was well done,” JV wrestler Mathew Kochevar ‘23 said. “It is sad that I will never wrestle on our mats again, but that is the nature of the beast. My high school wrestling career is over, but I am not done wrestling.”

The season ended with a 7-3 win/loss record for dual meets, including wins against Arapahoe, Legend and Rangeview High Schools. After the two-day Regionals tournament Feb. 10 and 11, three wrestlers qualified for state: Kaden Rahne ‘23, Sammy Mobly ‘23, and Cooper Chase ‘23.


The State Championship lasted three days, running from Feb. 16 to Feb. 18, and was hosted at Ball Arena in Denver. Chase wrestled in the 190 weight class, alongside Mobly in the 157 weight class and Rahne in the 152 weight class. 

In the first round matches Feb. 16, Chase and Rahne lost by pin, sending them to the first round consolation matches that took place Feb. 17, and Mobly won by major decision 9-0, moving on to the quarterfinals Feb. 17. 

Varsity wrestler Cooper Chase ‘23 hand-fights with his opponent during his match at day two of the State Championship at Ball Arena Feb. 17. Chase wrestled in the 190 weight class, alongside captains Sammy Mobly ‘23 in the 157 weight class and Kaden Rahne ‘23 in the 152 weight class. (photo by Claire Bauer)

On day two Feb. 17, Mobly won by pin in the quarterfinals, then won again by decision 3-1 in the semifinals, sending him to finals the next day and making school history as the first Jaguar wrestler to win in State semifinals. Rahne won by major decision 15-6 in his first round consolation match, then lost by pin in the second round consolation match. Chase won his first consolation match with a pin before losing by pin in his second consolation match.

Varsity wrestling captain Sammy Mobly ‘23 hugs Assistant Coach Kyle LeValley after winning the 5A semifinal match at day two of the State Championship at Ball Arena Feb. 17. Mobly upset then-number one ranked 157-pound weight class wrestler Emmitt Munson ’26 from 5A State Champion Pomona High School. Mobly had win/loss record of 26-2 his senior year, and ended his high school career with a total win/loss record of 105-17. “I’m proud of where we’ve come as a team,” Mobly said. “Before I was in high school, this program didn’t have much at all. It’s good to see the sport growing, even though it’s not as popular as basketball or something like that. It never will be. It would be cool if, in the coming years, people will come out and support the team. But I understand if people don’t come. That’s not why I do it.” (photo by Claire Bauer)

“There’s nothing like wrestling at State,” Chase said. “Getting to wrestle with thousands of people watching you is crazy. It really meant a lot to me because it’s a goal I’ve been working on for a very long time, and to go there is the greatest feeling in the world.”

By day three Feb. 18, Mobly was the last Jaguar wrestler remaining, but wrestling teammates, family, and friends continued to show up to watch and support. The day began with a “Parade of Champions,” where all finalists walked a lap around the arena for viewers to see.

Mobly wrestled Daniel Long ’23 of Adams City High School for the 5A 157 pound State Championship and lost 3-1 by takedown in sudden death during overtime, taking second place. 

“I was honestly just stunned,” Mobly said. “I knew that was the only chance I’d get at that title, and it was all taken away in just a couple seconds, so it was tough to get the energy to stand up and shake the other wrestler’s hand knowing he just beat me.

“I don’t regret anything. I did everything I could to have a chance at my biggest goal and I put myself in a position to make it possible. Wrestling has taught me more off the mat than anyone could imagine, and there are countless lessons to be taken into all aspects of life.”

Varsity wrestling captain Sammy Mobly ‘23 lays on the mat after losing the final match at day three of the State Championship at Ball Arena Feb. 18. Mobly wrestled Daniel Long ‘23 of Adams City High School for the 5A 157 pound State Championship and lost 3-1 by takedown in sudden death during overtime, taking second place. “It’s pretty nerve-racking, knowing that no one else can help you out there. It’s really just you,” Mobly said. (photo by Claire Bauer)

The team overall ranked 19 out of 47 teams at State.  

“This school, out of all my coaching experiences, has been the best as far as parental support and also administrative support,” Hill said. “One favorite memory from all of [coaching] is coaching Sammy in the finals for sure, and watching him develop over four years. He’s one of the best wrestlers I’ve ever coached. We’ve also got a great athletic director and great principal. All three of us [coaches] are leaving, this was our final chapter. But, once you’re a wrestler, you’re always a wrestler. It’s a family.”