High hopes for more experienced wrestling team

Zach DiSchiano

     Although it’s still early in the season, the boys wrestling team has already improved greatly since last year. The Timberwolves achieved this by going to Colorado over the summer to participate in a series of team duals and to work on technique. The wrestling captains had a combined 34 wins and only 9 losses. After an intense offseason and the training in Colorado, the guys are prepared for a new season.

      With seven seniors, the Timberwolves are a much more experienced team this year than they were last season. Even the juniors and underclassmen have experience in high school wrestling, which gives them the advantage because experience allows the wrestler to predict what their opponent will do next in certain situations. Wrestlers with more experience tend to be fundamentally sound and knowledgeable about their sport.

     “We have more experience; we’re more prepared for our tournaments and duels,” Ben Quarrels, senior, said. “Last year we had a team that was new to wrestling.”

      Last season’s team was a step down from the previous year, when the wrestling team was just short of a powerhouse with Dante Reynolds, Cody Frankum and Jamie Moore, who all placed in state. In his first year in wrestling, Reynolds was much weaker than anyone else on the team. Over the next few years he continued to work hard and finished amongst the best wrestlers in the state, even making the Team Texas wrestling team. Reynolds provided an inspiration to all of the younger wrestlers, who are now upperclassmen and the leaders of this year’s team. The 2007-2008 team finished third in district; however, last year’s team struggled with the loss of those seniors and went on to place sixth in district. This year the team hopes to get back on track.

      “I’d like to win a tournament, win district, place at regions, and be all-state this year,” Brett Ferdinand, senior, said. “I want the team to win at least one tournament and do well in our duals and win district.”

     Along with the pressure to improve athletically, the guys have an added pressure of academics. All of the wrestlers have a binder that Coach Pederson put together where they have to plan out everything they are going to do that week, like school, practice, homework and free time. On top of that, the guys have to keep up with their grades and make at least an 80 in every class.

     “After the first six weeks grading period ended, a good percentage of the team didn’t meet the expectations to make 80’s or above,” Andrius Daley, junior, said. “Coach Pederson had us do intervals on the track followed by a lot of jumping jacks. Then we went into the hot, humid wrestling room and did multiple sets of up-downs and bear crawls across the room. It was a bummer.”

      Another form of added pressure in wrestling is the need to make weight. To make matches fair, the wrestlers are required to weigh in at their pre-determined weight, and if a wrestler is even a tenth of a pound heavier than their allowance for their weight class they will not be able to wrestle at that class for the event. They still have the option to move up to a heavier class, but usually the lineup is already filled. The coaches strongly encourage the wrestlers to eat right, so they can make weight consistently.

     “If it didn’t have a mother or grow from the earth, don’t eat it,” Coach Pederson said. “There is no such thing as a Cheeto tree.”

     Eating healthy isn’t always the easiest task for teenagers, so the difficulty to avoid foods like pizza and burgers is even harder than it would be for an adult.

     “You really have to stay away from junk food,” Taylor Barder, senior, said. “When your friends are going out to eat you have to stay away from that, so that’s not too much fun. You can’t eat what you want all the time.”

     All of the pressures to do better in school, eat healthier and improve athletically is a big help to the guys not only as wrestlers but also as human beings. They are creating good study and eating habits that will surely help them in college. Coach Pederson has done an excellent job in training the guys to put school first while still continuing to better themselves athletically. The Timberwolf wrestling team has seven tournaments remaining, plus the regional and state competitions. With more experience and discipline than ever, expect the Timberwolves to have a strong season.