Wrestlers Gear Up For A Promising Season


Magnus Swanson

Zhalil Takhirov, 10, scores 2 points against a Freeport opponent.

   As the season begins for Guilford’s wrestling team, athletes are preparing themselves for long practices, early tournaments, cutting of weight, and brutal conditioning: not only a physical preparation, but a mental one as well. One thing that may surprise most people is that there aren’t even tryouts to join the team, but as most wrestlers know, practices are hard enough to substitute for tryouts. Within the first weeks of the season, nearly half of the newcomers will have left due to the large amount of conditioning and commitment it takes. Because wrestlers compete in different weight classes, maintaining a combination of both physical readiness and the desired weight is quite the challenge. 

   “I feel like I’m going to do much better this year, my teammates have encouraged me to try my best and learn from my mistakes,” said Blake Erwin, junior. “I’m definitely more confident in my skills, and confidence is a hard skill to get in a challenging sport such as wrestling. Last year staying calm before a match was always my biggest issue. But the team is always fun to be around, especially during tournaments.”

   Wrestlers who cut weight for days on end long to qualify within their class usually find their bodies in a poor state for fighting, to say the least. They must wait until the meet at the end of the day for weigh-ins, often finding themselves hungered, parched, added under intense fatigue.

   “I feel like last year was easy because I was wrestling under 220 pounds, but this year I’m wrestling heavyweight and it’s going to be a challenge,” said Eric Cuevas, senior. “It’s definitely going to be tough for the team because the large majority of our wrestlers are completely new to the sport. My mindset has changed from last years because now I’m much more positive, despite the hardest things such as cutting weight, and always feeling hungry or thirsty. But wrestling is all still worth it for me just because I get to keep in shape and get close with the team.”

   As the season goes on, the athletes have grown accustomed to this strict regimen, finding themselves in peak physical condition and mental readiness. Learning new moves, conditioning daily, and cutting weight are now becoming a practice of ease. Everyday Coaches Woosley, Dreheim and Rick work to teach wrestlers various techniques and tricks in order to win matches.

   “Team-wise, I think we’re going to have a better season than last year,” said Coach Woosley. “We’ve got a good group of kids this year, they’re all hard workers. The entire atmosphere with the team has changed. All of the athletes are more engaged this year for sure. We even started morning workouts before Thanksgiving break this year, where last year we started after winter break. The team’s doing great and we’re doing a lot more of live, intense wrestling. The biggest issue is finding student athletes that are as committed as I am, and this year I‘ve found plenty.”

  Only time will tell how well this season’s team will perform. With new coaching, a more seasoned team and good effort, this could be one of Guilford’s best years in wrestling. Combining seasoned seniors with plenty of newcomers has its challenges, but with good coaching and dedication, the IHSA can expect to see a great year for Guilford wrestling. 

   “Going into this year I’m definitely putting more effort into the sport,” said Thomas Kirchner, Senior. “I’m more prepared to drill and take myself more seriously during practice. The biggest problem for me right now is cutting down to 132 pounds because I’m at 140 currently. I’m excited to improve this year. The challenge encourages me to do my best.”