Wrestling: Team’s increase in membership makes up for key losses

December 12, 2018 — by Mathew Luo and Phoebe Wang

With an increase in the number of wrestlers this year to 20 wrestlers, the team’s primary focus has been on teaching basics and maintaining interest in the sport.

According to head coach Kirk Abe, 80 percent of the team is wrestling for the first time. Since wrestling usually does not see the mainstream popularity that sports like football and basketball do, Abe said that many of these incoming wrestlers don’t come primed with knowledge of the rules and as a result, have had to learn the sport from scratch.

For their first few matches in preseason tournaments in late November and early December, the primary focus during practices has been teaching the basics.

“My goal has been a fast track so that they know the sport, they know the rules [and] they know some moves so that they can actually wrestle,” Abe said.

To boost the number of participants for future years, Abe has been holding open-mats — several hour-long sessions where people interested in the sport can “wrestle [their] friends, swing, climb the ropes and learn techniques from older wrestlers,” according to senior Victor Chen, a returning team member.

After participating in open-mats, which started in March, and practicing for over five weeks in the preseason, the JV wrestling team participated in the Tac tournament at Overfelt High School on Nov. 30.

Sophomore Hunter Hawley placed first, junior Nico Sabato second, sophomore Trevor Green third, sophomore Karran Vazirani third, junior Kole Tippetts third and sophomore Joshua Liu fourth, in their respective weight classes.

Chen credits with Abe’s transition back to head coach with adding stability and inspiration, explaining the team’s noticeable improvement from last season.

Chen is optimistic about the upcoming season not only because of the strong results at the Tac tournament but also because the larger team can fill up additional weight classes at dual meets. However, he says that the loss of key wrestlers such as alum Allie Liddle due to graduation and sophomore Linus Blom due to his transfer Los Gatos will make filling up a competitive varsity lineup difficult.

Abe said that this year is most definitely a year for rebuilding. However, if wrestlers learn to love the sport, that will build the foundation for eventual success.

“My goal has been to get them to learn the sport and love the sport. When you have a passion for something, you put more effort into it,” Abe said.

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