Wrestling team looks to increase participation

November 28, 2017 — by Mathew Luo and Rahul Vadlakonda

Each year, the struggle is the same for the school’s wrestling team: They can’t field a big enough team, sometimes ending up with fewer than 10 members.

Schools around the area such as Monta Vista, Gunn and Lynbrook all had more than 20 athletes participating last year.

Since most schools in the El Camino League have more than 15 members, the SHS wrestling team can’t fill its weight classes and lose dual meets because of the forfeits that result. Each forfeited weight class out of the 14 possible ones costs the Falcons  7 points..

Last year’s team fared particularly poorly in terms of membership, with 15 wrestlers starting the year but only five on the roster at the end.

Junior Victor Chen, a returning member of the team, said that the causes of the drops varied for each team member. Some quit after injuries; one parent pulled a female wrestler out because she did not like the idea of her wrestling with boys.

Another factor is the sheer difficulty of the sport.

“Our coach [Daniel Gamez] is very hard on conditioning; most people can’t handle it,” Chen said. “If you are just a regular person, they condition you hard and you can’t stand it. And especially, if you don’t win, you feel like you are conditioning for no purpose.”

Athletic director Tim Lugo said many other schools seem to be struggling with the similar challenges. In fact, he said Santa Clara High School dropped its wrestling program altogether because of these struggles with numbers.

Though the number of team members has seemed to shrink in the past couple of years, Lugo said that he is nonetheless hopeful about the team’s recovery in future years.

“I went by the wrestling room on Nov. 16 and we had 13 students working very hard, so I am optimistic about the future, as all but two members were underclassmen,” Lugo said.

For his part, Chen said he likes wrestling on a small team because it strengthens the bonds between the team members.

“There’s more fun to being on smaller teams because everyone knows everyone and the coaches pay more attention to everyone,” Chen said.

 

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