Daily News spotlight athletes: Thomas Jefferson's Thor Henze, Woodland Hills' Desiree Garland
School: Thomas Jefferson
Claim to fame: Henze recorded three pins en route to winning the 285-pound title at the Steve DeAugustino holiday classic at West Mifflin High School earlier this season. The 6-foot, 282-pound senior also finished second at the Tool City tournament. “He has wrestled tremendously this year,” coach Rudy Nesbitt said. “We took him to Edinboro University over the summer where he trained with the heavyweights. He ended up winning the takedown tournament. That was our first win in seven years. He came back home and really pushed himself over the summer. He improved his conditioning and his ability to pin opponents.”
How did you get into wrestling?
I've been doing it since kindergarten. I brought home a paper from school, and I was kind of questioning whether I wanted to do it or not. I ended up doing it, and it just took off from there. I've loved it ever since.
Have you decided where you'll go to college?
I'm not sure yet. I would like to study outdoor sciences. Iowa State University has been looking at me. I'd like to go there and wrestle. They have pretty good wrestling program.
Is it difficult to be a good leader in such an individual sport?
A little bit. I guess I lead by cheering for the other guys when they're out there wrestling and helping them on the mat with the coaches.
What do you enjoy most about wrestling?
I love the intensity. I like how you have to put a lot into it to succeed. For example, I went to the Edinboro wrestling camp with the team this summer and went to as many summer practices as I could. I trained with Rob Waller at All-American Wrestling in Latrobe as well.
What do you need to improve to take yourself to the next level?
Probably my speed and endurance to be able to go that extra few minutes in a match.
Which of your fellow seniors would give you the biggest challenge in a match?
I'd say Jason McKown would give me the best run for my money just because how he wrestles and the intensity that he puts into it. He just doesn't give up.
What needs to happen for you to consider this season a success?
I'd say so far it has already been a success. But to make it 100 percent successful, I have to make it to states.
What is your favorite movie and why?
“Joe Dirt” is my favorite movie because of how funny and ridiculous it is.
— Robert Stinner
School: Woodland Hills
Claim to fame: Garland scored 14 points and eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for her career in the Wolverines' 58-46 loss to Franklin Regional on Jan. 11. Garland — who is averaging 17 points per game heading into the week — scored 12 points in the Wolverines' 49-48 win over Norwin on Jan. 9 and had 15 in a 63-33 win over McKeesport on Jan. 4.
How special was it for you to reach the 1,000-point mark?
It's very special. I didn't even know that I was close until a week before that. My coach didn't want to tell me because she didn't want me to think about it too much.
What are your plans after high school?
I'm debating between running track and field or playing basketball. I'm not sure, yet. I'll know in February. Pitt is the main school that I've heard from for track. That's where I want to go. I also heard from Seton Hill, Cal (Pa.) and IUP.
Why are you opting to run track over playing basketball?
Last year was the first time I ran track. I did really well. It just fits me better than basketball. I've gotten more letters from track and field, so it just seems like the better thing to do in the long run.
When you look back at your four years at Woodland Hills, what moment will stand out most?
When I played with my sister when I was a freshman and she was a senior. It was more fun to me because my sister was there. She helped me a lot. I don't think I would have been as good if she wasn't there my first year.
The Wolverines have gotten off to a rough start in section play. What are you going to have to do to turn the season around?
We just need to come together as a team and work harder and support each other more.
— Brian Graham