Jayce Prante (215) fights his way through multiple rounds to take the 3A win at Ball Arena.
Jayce Prante (215) fights his way through multiple rounds to take the 3A win at Ball Arena.
Eli Cortez

State Champion: Jayce Prante wins 215 3A Title

Pirate wrestlers Andrew Sheppard, Mieke Waanders, and Maile Manfre show up strong at state tournament
Jayce Prante (215) fights his way through multiple rounds to take the 3A win at Ball Arena. (Eli Cortez)

Jayce Prante

Aggressive, skillful, and prepared is how Englewood High School students describe the senior wrestling maestro Jayce Prante when he battles on the mat.


For all of his four years at EHS, he has dominated on the mat. This season is not different, “My favorite thing about the wrestling season is probably how much success we have as a team, including myself. I’ve won every tournament except for one. And we found a lot of success with our younger guys and newer wrestlers as well,” Prante said.


From the time he started wrestling, state has been the goal, this year it is state and more, “My goal is to be a state finalist. If not go for the state championship.”


For athletes, the amount of preparation needed to be successful is immense, but for Prante, it was nuanced, “From the start of the season, we knew that I had to drop some weight to make my weight class. So that was the start of it. Eating well, exercising really hard. And now that it’s getting closer to the time when I can achieve my goal. It’s all about working hard and reviewing all the moves so that I can be as successful as possible,” Prante said.

Andrew Sheppard at state tournament.

Andrew Sheppard

“I worked nonstop going to clubs and tournaments in order to get better and get on the next level. To anyone who’s looking to go to a college for their sport, I’d say work as hard as possible. Work hard in school and your sport as they both play big roles at the next level. Constantly work as hard as you can!” – Andrew Sheppard

Sheppard will take his place on a college wrestling team having signed a letter of intent to wrestle for Trinidad State College.


Mieke Waanders competing at the state tournament at Ball Arena

Mieke Waanders

Record-winning Mieke Waanders’ surprising love for wrestling began while she was invested in a different sport, “Last year on my softball team, a couple of my teammates just sort of invited me to try it out and I ended up really liking it,” Waanders said. Like many beginners in sports, Waanders found herself not being immediately successful in wrestling, “But I did a lot of practice, and over the summer did a couple of camps and now this year, I’ve seen a lot of improvement. I have a winning record now. So I’d say that’s pretty good.”

Feeling the weight of losing multiple matches, she was determined to advance in her performance. Following her first year of wrestling, Waanders went to a wrestling camp in Salt Lake City and attended a clinic taking place at Broomfield High School in Colorado. She also follows professional wrestlers online, including Cary Kolat, “He’s probably my favorite wrestler. He does a lot of instructional videos on his Instagram and Tiktok account,” Waanders said.

Waanders was open about still struggling with calming herself before critical matches. She found her key in her teammates and coach, “Our coach is pretty good about telling us that it doesn’t matter if we win or lose, and that it just matters if you’re improving. You just think about if you did better than you had the past week or the last time you competed and this helps me,” Waanders said. The captain of the girl’s wrestling team and friend of Waanders’, Keilani Manfre says Waanders has ambition and a strong character, “She’s grown technically as a wrestler and overall has grown into an overall amazing person,” Manfre said.

Maile Manfre goes head to head with her opponent at the state wrestling tournament.

Maile Manfre

Finding a love for wrestling watching her little brother, sophomore Maile Manfre is in her fourth year of wrestling, beginning with Pirate Youth Sports and entering her second year at Englewood High School. Manfre is a hard-working female wrestler who has a lot of love for the sport and strong connections with her teammates.


Manfre’s appreciation for wrestling grows as the season progresses, “I really like to shoot double legs into a butcher or half.” Not only does Manfre have a great connection with the sport but also, “It’s a fun community.” Manfre finds the best way she can focus and calm herself down before a match, “Something that helps me calm down is to pick a point on the floor or wall and stare at it while focusing on my breathing.”


The manager of girls wrestling is Keaolani Manfre who is Maile’s sister. Manfre has seen her sister grow over her four years.

re’s sister describes her as persistent and someone who can always come through during rough matches, “She’s grown in her skill from the beginning of the season,” Keaolani said.


Manfre has flourished through the rough times on the mat and has learned new skills from these hardships. Keaolani loves to watch Manfre grow over the season, “I’ll be here for and watching her turn into an amazing wrestler the more experienced she gets.”


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