Before each of his matches last season, Woods Cross wrestler Sasha Prosence tried to psyche out his opponents by hopping onto the mat before falling to his place at center mat.
But Prosence, who was born missing his right leg, has no use for such tactics any longer. Now, he's a region champion. He's a fourth-place finisher at the prestigious Rocky Mountain Rumble. He's a legitimate state title contender.
And, if all goes according to plan, he could be one of a select group of wrestlers with a missing limb to compete on the collegiate level.
"It'd be cool to continue to break down that barrier," he said.
But the future hasn't always looked so bright for Prosence.
In 1992, Sasha was born in Murom, Vladimir, Russia, the survivor of a failed first-trimester abortion attempt. His birth mother fell ill with anemia during the third month of pregnancy and, with limited access to health care, she decided to terminate the pregnancy. The procedure took Prosence's leg at the hip.
But Prosence has never dwelled on what's missing.
Rather, he's taken every opportunity to perfect his strategy and the unique moves that allow him to compete on an even keel against his more "able-bodied" opponents.
Last July, he fulfilled a dream when he attended the Mesa State Wrestling Camp, hosted by Arizona State's 125-pound, two-time All-American wrestler Anthony Robles, who was also born missing one leg. It was there, working one-on-one with his longtime hero, that Prosence learned the unique rotations, tilts and cradles that are propelling him to a breakthrough season.
"He just had those skills drilled into him for hours every day," Woods Cross' first-year coach, Mason Milligan, said. "He definitely gained confidence in that experience and is using it now. He's just taken it to another level."
Of course, the addition of a solid 10 pounds during the offseason hasn't hurt the cause. Now, for the first time in his career, he's occasionally had to drop weight to compete in the 103-pound class.
Still, he faces a tough road or more accurately, two major roadblocks in Box Elder's Shane Hardy and Maple Mountain's Brandon George if he hopes to secure a groundbreaking state title. Hardy and George handed Prosence two of his three full-match losses of the season. The fourth came after he blacked out in the opening round of his fourth-place match against Hurricane's Josh Pettus at the Rocky Mountain Rumble.
"I think I caught some people off-guard early but I know they've figured me out a bit now," Prosence said. "I've got to keep my eye out."
Still, there's no doubt that Prosence is the best and perhaps only one-legged wrestler the state has ever seen. According to his teammates and coaches, he's also one of the most inspiring.
But for Prosence, it's not enough. He wants to be more than a feel-good story.
"The support of my team and their commitment to practice has helped me go far," Prosence said. "But I'm just walking in the path others have set for me. I want to be known as a great wrestler. I don't think of myself as the wrestler with one leg."
Successful senior season
On Jan. 29, Woods Cross wrestler Sasha Prosence, who was born missing his right leg at the hip, won the 103-pound Region 6 title. On Jan. 15, he secured a fourth-place finish in the prestigious Rocky Mountain Rumble tournament.
Last July he fulfilled a dream, attending the Mesa State Wrestling Camp, hosted by Arizona State's 125-pound, two-time All-American wrestler Anthony Robles, who was also born missing one leg. It was there, working one-on-one with his longtime hero, that Prosence learned the unique rotations, tilts and cradles that are propelling him to a breakthrough season.