Most years at the start of December, Gauge Lockhart is in wrestling mode already.

The Delta High School senior has been wrestling consistently since middle school. He qualified for the Class 3A state tournament in 2018 and 2019, despite being unranked throughout much of those seasons.

In 2018, he didn’t place at the Pepsi Center. Last season, he fell short in the semifinal and finished third in the state at 195 pounds.

“I didn’t have the ranking going in,” Lockhart said. “I was kind of an underdog, which drove me. I did exceed expectations a little bit.”

This season, he won’t be catching anyone by surprise. Lockhart is ranked No. 1 at 195 in 3A by On The Mat. He finished third in his weight bracket at the Warrior Classic on Dec. 21.

His biggest issue at the start of this season has been getting back into the swing of wrestling.

Lockhart was one of the best offensive weapons on Delta’s football team as a tight end, hauling in 23 passes for 434 yards and four scores with another two touchdowns on the ground.

He helped the Panthers dominate their competition. Delta went 11-2, falling in a close game to Sterling in the 2A title game.

Once he was done on the gridiron, he didn’t have much time to re-adjust to his other major sport.

“I had four practices before our first event at the (Maverick) Duals,” Lockhart said at the Warrior Classic. “I ended up only having one match, so it was pretty hard to get back in shape. I’ve only had three weeks to practice now, but I’m starting to get there. I’m not in pristine wrestling condition yet, because it takes a while, but it’s definitely been a factor the past three weeks.”

After his semifinal appearance in the Warrior Classic and everything else he’s done this season to justify being No. 1 at 195, he has higher hopes for a state title.

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