Wrestlers prepare for meet behind-the-scenes

Wrestlers prepare for meet behind-the-scenes

By Emily Johnson

Sophomore Jake Ellis won his wrestling match in the home dual against Shawnee Heights High School on Wednesday, Jan. 18.

Hanna Torline, editor-in-chief

Although students may hear wrestling results, many have no idea what actually goes into preparing for and participating in a wrestling tournament.

The home meet against Shawnee Heights High School on Wednesday, Jan. 18 provided a chance to find out.

At 5 p.m. before the meet started, warm-ups began in the wrestling room. Wrestlers matched up against a teammate of similar weight and practiced moves and strategies as “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne played in the background.

“We have to practice hard every day to prepare for our matches,” sophomore Tyler Dickman said. “There’s a lot of pressure that comes with big matches.”

Head coach Travis Keal and assistant coach Kale Mann stood against the wall yelling out instructions, then gradually began walking around the room to give individual advice. The wrestlers practiced moves, but they didn’t actually wrestle their opponent to the ground. If a wrestler was knocked down, his partner moved aside and waited for him to resume his stance, then continued to work on moves.

As the warm-up came to an end, the music stopped and the wrestlers circled up. Keal gave a speech as the wrestlers bounced up and down.

“We work hard,” Keal said. “We wrestle hard. Take advantage of that. We’re always hustling. We’re always doing the right thing on the mats. I want to see some aggression.”

As they filed into the auxiliary gym in a systematic line among a row of navy and black Aasics bags, the members of the team took their places in folding chairs lined up along the edge of the large wrestling mat.

The wrestlers stood up and shook hands with their opponents as announcer Cory Wurtz called the weights, schools and names of the opponents in each match up. After all the names had been called, most of the wrestlers took their seats, but some lined up behind the chairs, bouncing on the balls of their feet or listening to music as they prepared for their match.

Following the national anthem, the referee called the team captains, seniors Zach Callahan, Devin Ellison and Christian Service, to the middle of the mat to shake hands with the captains from Shawnee Heights and call the coin toss.

“Being a captain is a new experience,” Service said. “When you are out there [at a tournament] that’s not usually the leader part. The captain role usually shows at the practice room more than on a competition day.”

After the Jaguars won the coin toss, Callahan yelled in the quiet gym to get his teammates pumped up.

The wrestlers stepped up to the mat in order of weight, starting with the lightweights and ending with the heavyweights.

As each match unfolded, parents, teammates, coaches and friends in the full stands shouted words of encouragement and advice to the wrestlers on the mat.

When the clock buzz signaled the end of the meet, the audience stood up and congratulated or consoled players on their performances. While the match was over for those watching in the stands, it was only a small part of the work and effort of the season in the eyes of the wrestlers.

“A lot of people don’t know what goes on in the wrestling room before and after a tournament,” Dickman said. “I don’t really think that people know how hard we work until we actually wrestle.”

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