MatCats look forward to success

The Westminster wrestling team has historically been very successful in Georgia over the past years. With eight state championships, the wrestling team has had a lot of experience in winning big tournaments. This year, head coach Bobby Hayes and his team look forward to another potential state championship.

Although wrestling is an individual sport, the team is an important component of individual success. The ultimate goal starts at improving on last year’s position. This can be achieved by having the team give everything they have and could end up by winning a state championship.

The loss of great wrestlers from last year will certainly hurt the team, and assistant coach Robert Friddell notes that the graduated wrestlers will be missed greatly. However, this year’s team will be “more experienced overall,” said Friddell.

There will be some holes to fill but with more experienced sophomores and new freshmen, Friddell predicts that this year’s team will be just as good if not better than the team from last year.

Freshman Andrew Schaeffer is one of the freshmen that Friddell looks forward to watch this season. Andrew already has high expectations for his first year on the varsity wrestling team.

“I feel like we are going to win a state championship,” said Schaeffer.

Many other wrestlers share this same opinion with Schaeffer and are driven to win after failing to be at the top of the podium the past years.

Wrestling practice has just started and players and coaches have begun to prepare rigorously for long season filled with lots of hard work. The first few days of practice are notorious for being conditioning-heavy workouts to highlight those wrestlers who have been working hard during the offseason.

Schaeffer was impressed by the first few days of practice.

“They have been pretty hard,” Schaeffer said, but he realizes that these workouts are nothing compared to those during the middle of the season.

Both Friddell and Hayes were impressed with their team’s ability to prepare for the season over the summer. Friddell was especially impressed by some of the athletes who went to week-long camps to improve their wrestling abilities. Some wrestlers have installed mats at their houses to be able to work out with friends away from Westminster. This is an example of the level of dedication that makes a big impact on the season.

From practices to lifting sessions, to early morning team runs, the wrestling captains have been getting the new wrestlers in shape.

This season, Hayes and the captains decided to try something new with practices. In the past years, the upperclassmen did group workouts and partner practices with their friends from the same grade. Now, there will be different groups that each have older wrestlers as well as less experienced wrestlers placed together. This strategy should help build relationships between older and younger wrestlers while helping the younger students get acclimated to the high school practices.

Hayes said that returners would fill most of the spots on the varsity team. However, some weight classes need younger wrestlers to fill the holes.

The JV wrestling team also has the opportunity to be successful.

“We have a ton of JV matches,” said Hayes. This will give younger wrestlers plenty of real match experience to come back next year with some JV wins under their belts.

Fans can look forward to going to any of seven home matches this year, a big step up from the two or three normally hosted by Westminster.  The Westminster duals on Dec. 5 are always an early season crowd favorite. The MatCats have had great success at the home event for the past four years,” said Hayes. “We’ve won it three years and got second the other year.”

The area duals and traditional areas happen at the end of the season, once everybody is in shape and ready to beat anybody. Westminster will host two area tournaments to wind the season down in January. Hopefully, the Cats will be coming into these events with momentum from winning previous matches against rivals such as Marist, Lovett, and Holy Innocents.