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Jaguar wrestlers tie for second at EKL tournament

Mill Valley hosted the matches on Saturday, Feb. 3

Anika Roy, JagWire copy editor

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The Jaguar wrestlers competed in the EKL tournament on Saturday, Feb. 3, tying for second. All in their respective weight classes, seniors Conner Ward, Bryson Markovich, Jarrett Bendure and sophomore Zach Keal placed first, while sophomore Austin Keal and senior Hayden Keopke placed second and senior Devon Handy and freshman Brodie Scott placed third.

Bendure believes that Mill Valley hosting the tournament added to the pressure to perform well.

“The hardest part is the preparation mentally for me,” Bendure said. “I try not to put a lot of pressure on myself, but wrestling in front of the home crowd in our gym is a lot to take on.”

Despite the pressure, Bendure was satisfied with his performances.

“I kept my pace up and I moved my hands and feet a lot,” Bendure said.  “I was taking down a lot of guys down and that’s good.”

When looking forward to Saturday’s league tournament, head coach Travis Keal encouraged his team to prepare as they would for any other.

“We don’t really change anything, no [tournament] is bigger,” Travis said. “We approach it as needing to wrestle our best at all times, having a good attitude and putting in lots of effort. That’s how we’ve trained since day one.”

Sophomore Zach Keal is confident that the work put in by the team at practice ultimately allowed for their success.

“We’ve been practicing hard every day,” Zach said. “We drill hard, go live hard and then condition hard, and it really prepares us for these tournaments.”

With regional and state tournaments soon approaching on Feb. 16-17 and Feb. 23-24, respectively, Zach believes the biggest challenge is keeping the team in good health.

“There’s a couple people that are hurt right now and so we don’t have a full team in the lineup,” Zach said. “We’re just trying to get everyone healthy before regionals and state.”

At tournaments such as these, Bendure has enjoyed developing new relationships with his teammates.

“Over the past couple years, I’ve wrestled with my older brothers,” Bendure said. “It used to be all about wrestling with them every weekend, traveling with them and forming a brotherly bond more than we already did at home, but this year it’s been all about the team atmosphere for me and getting new friends. That’s my favorite part, being with the people I like so much.”

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Jaguar wrestlers tie for second at EKL tournament