Wrestling: Injuries leave leadership void on mat

January 28, 2010 — by Jordan Waite

Sophomore wrestler Nick Marshall let out a sigh of relief as he stepped onto the awards podium at the toughest tournament of the year on Jan. 23 , Mid-Cals, to receive his seventh place medal. The Mid-Cals tournament in Gilroy is a two-day competition in which the best wrestlers from the all over the state come to represent their schools, and Saratoga was well represented. Other notable Falcon performances were sophomore Alfred Murabito, 127 lbs, and freshman Zachary Hansen, 105 lbs , both making it to the second day of the tournament, held Jan. 22-23.

The Falcons have dedicated this season to building up their younger athletes, an understandable goal since the over three-quarters of the team are underclassmen. The challenges are obvious: maturity, discipline and the difficult jump from middle school wrestling to the high school program.

“Self-confidence is hard to come by when winning is so important,” said head coach Gabe Tseng. “There is a lot of pressure on these athletes to perform.”

The team has struggled with dual meets this season, resulting in a disappointing league record of 0-4 as of Jan. 26. Although they have not won a dual meet, they have made impressive showings at tournaments and hope to shine at the end of the season.

“We will definitely surprise at League finals with the adjustments and improvements we have made,” said Tseng. “I look forward to surprising everybody at the end of the season and showing the league and the Central Coast Section that we are rebuilding.”

The Falcons have also have had numerous injured wrestlers , creating gaps in the lineup that make winning a dual-meet near impossible. Senior captain Alan Yen, 191 lbs, has not been able to compete for some time due to an in injured foot but will be able to wrestle soon. It is difficult for the team when its leader is injured, according to Tseng.

“It’s difficult for a leader to lead off the mat. It’s much easier to lead by example,” said Tseng. “Injuries have allowed for the opportunity for younger guys to step up.”

Two wrestlers who have consistently done well for the team are Hansen and freshman Henry Wei, 154 lbs, . Although they are both freshmen, they stepped up and took on leadership roles by excelling in tournaments and working hard in practice.

“[Hansen and Wei] have provided leadership by example since Yen went down for a month,” said Tseng.

With this rebuilding season, the Falcons are less concerned with their win-loss record and have focused on individual improvement.

“While we want to have success, we don’t want to sacrifice growth and improvement for winning,” said Tseng. “Winning is secondary; growth and improvement is first.”

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