Despite COVID related challenges the wrestling team refuses to tap out


David Avila (Junior) celebrating after taking first in a match. (via gvikeswrestling on Instagram)

   This year, the wrestling team had to face one of its biggest challenges yet: wrestling during a pandemic. Wrestling is one of the highest, if not the highest, contact sports a person can participate in at the high school level, so when an airborne virus like coronavirus is spreading like wildfire, the question was how to combat it.

   “Covid caused many problems for our team,” said Ben Branyan, senior. “We had a lot of guys out constantly due to contact tracing, and we had a handful of duels get canceled because our team or another team had covid cases.”

   The wrestling team and coaches found they had to work together to balance safety and build up their skills for the upcoming matches. Due to wrestling’s nature, the team found that wearing masks was pointless with the high contact nature of the sport. 

   “The relationship between the coaches and the wrestlers is great, we all respect each other and they push our limits,” said Rashad Hoel, junior. “They are a huge reason we are where we are, and we keep getting better.”

   Improving the wrestlers’ skills over the season has been a great accomplishment for the team, especially since many of the players have been wrestling for an extended period of time. Students like David Avila getting first and second, or Noah Nelson and Ja’vani Torres getting third at respective tournaments and meets shows the player’s improvement. Rashad Hoel was able to perform exceptionally well at one meet, being able to have a 5-0 run.

Noah Nelson (Senior) and David Avila (Junior) celebrating after a wrestling meet (via gvikeswrestling on Instagram)

   “I have been on the wrestling team for Guilford since freshman year,” said Hoel, “but I’ve been wrestling since 5th grade.” 

   Some senior wrestlers who have been competing for so long are now having their run come to an end with the completion of this season.

   “I have wrestled for Guilford since freshman year, and I started wrestling in 6th grade for Eisenhower,” said Branyan. “I’m sad to see that it’s over. Wrestling helped shape who I am today and I’m really going to miss it.”

   While many of the wrestlers were seasoned participants of the sport, others were not.

   “This season was tough with how young our team is,” said Branyan. “However, most of the team placed at a few of the tournaments, and a few guys took first.”

   Despite the difficult season, many of the wrestlers were able to benefit from learning new tactics, getting better overall, and having fun while doing it. For example, junior Dorien Palmer qualified for sectionals. 

   “Coach Draheim and Capriotti are both great coaches,” said Branyan. “They make us work hard and have fun doing it.”

   Wrestling can seem very individual, even though it is a team sport. The way the coaches went about practice this year helped make it clear that their team was in this together.

   “While we may be on our own in a match, or at practice, we are all competing, learning, and pushing each other to be better and that builds a stronger team,” said Branyan. “I think that really benefited us.”

The wrestling team participating in “#musclemonday” during practice (via gvikeswrestling on Instagram)

   This team dynamic didn’t just profit during practices when the team was all together. Its positive effects were also seen during matches.

   “Individually, we all wanna be the best so it affects us all in a great way,” said Hoel. “It makes us really good competitors.”

   The wrestling team’s energy and bond helped them make up in any areas that they lacked, and that’s something that all sports teams could benefit from.

   “Guilford as a team didn’t do very strong, but everyone worked their butts off and I’m so proud of everyone who contributed and challenged each other to be better,” said Hoel. “I am sure we will be one of the best programs in the NIC-10 in a couple of years.”