Wrestling season starts off strong

The wrestling season is underway and things are looking extremely promising for the MatCats.  The season is still young with the Varsity and Junior Varsity wrestling teams having their first meet last Saturday.

“We’ve had one tournament with really good competition,” said head coach Bobby Hayes. “The guys look sharp and we’ve got some really solid [wrestlers].”

That first tournament took place at Lassiter High School with “three teams that could win the state title,” said Hayes. The early season competition is what is going to prove beneficial as the season progresses.

“I think we did pretty well on Saturday,” said senior Reid Balser. “That kind of competition is only going to make us better.”

Balser and Rankin Thompson are the only two seniors on the team. Both were selected by the coaches to be captains and are looking to provide leadership to a young team.

“We have a lot of young guys on the team this year, but we also have some really good juniors that will do well,” said Balser.

While the inexperience and youth may seem like a bad thing, it can actually come with a tremendous upside.

“Having a young team, I know we’re going to get better throughout the season,” said Hayes. “There [are] a lot of teachable moments, one guy might lose because of something they haven’t experienced, and that will be something we can work on.”

Besides experience, there are many ways that the 2016 team is different than teams of years past. There is an unfamiliar dynamic that is unique to this year’s team.

“We don’t have the one big home run hitter,” said Hayes. “We haven’t had anybody step up yet and assume that role yet, but I think we will, they just need a little more experience.”

The team as a whole has many talented wrestlers that are looking to make an impact on this 2016 season.

“We have a pretty strong core this year that will be good competition in our area,” said junior wrestler Ryan Cha.

Unlike most high school sports, wrestling competes against teams through area alignments instead of regions. Westminster is placed in an area with 12 other teams and fans can expect the competition to be very formidable this season.

“Bremen is a traditional powerhouse, Ringgold was very good last year, and Lovett is always tough,” said Hayes.  “Murray County, Sonoraville, Calhoun are always really good, it’s going to be a real competitive area this year.”

The area tournament at the end of the season will surely be competitive, but the MatCats hope to place highly.

There is a massive amount of physical preparation that has to happen before the wrestling season even begins. The sport is very demanding and it takes a lot to be able to compete at a high level.

“The first few practices of the year were the most tired I have ever been,” said junior Mason Fowler. “Now I feel like I am in much better shape.”

Wrestlers need to be ready to perform to their best abilities on match days and their training proves vital in competition.

“A wrestling match is the equivalent of sprinting for six minutes,” said Hayes. “You’re doing the work of a cross country runner, offensive lineman, and sprinter.”

At some tournaments, an athlete might wrestle as many as five times, so every wrestler must be physically prepared in order to succeed.

There are goals small and large for the wrestlers this year. Some want to improve from last year while others are trying to get in better shape.

“I want to go farther in state this year than I did last year, and I definitely think I will be able to,” said junior Jack Polhemus.

Whatever the goal, every wrestler will work as hard as possible to achieve what they set out to do.

With upcoming meets at Riverwood, Woodward, and the annual Westminster Duals, Balser, Alex Cann, Cha, Polhemus and many others will look to make a run at a team state championship.