2021 Wrestling Season Overview

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Natalie Green

Nick Marker ’23 grapples with his Liberty High opponent.

Emily Martinez, Culture Editor

This winter sports season, City High wrestlers and coaches alike have had to adapt to delays and limitations of practices and meets due to COVID-19. Despite all of these adjustments, they were still able to have a season.

“[The delay of practices] for sure affected the team,” Cory Connell, head wrestling coach, said. “My favorite part of coaching is developing wrestlers to be the best they can be on and off the mat. We weren’t able to get as much technique, development in all positions, or mat time as we usually do. I think [the delay] also affected [wrestlers] in a positive way, that when they were in there they were focused, worked hard, and we’re grateful to be in there as a team.”

All in-person sports and extracurricular activities were suspended due to the ICCSD switching to 100% online learning back in early December of 2020.

“I think covid hasn’t really affected our progress, at least as much as you’d think it would,” Nick Marker ‘23 said. “With the current situation, we’re split into an advanced group and a less advanced group, which really allowed us to get back on track faster. The more advanced guys were able to skip past all the basic techniques and just work on honing in on the little details we need to work on. We’ve missed out on a lot of competition, but as a team, we want to be optimistic.  We’re gonna be a lot [sharper] for districts, mentally and physically, and no one is gonna know what’s coming from us.”

Throughout the season, coaches invited speakers such as Dan Gable, Jim Miller, Kyven Gadson, Casey Krieter, Aaron Costello to their team Zoom meeting to give wrestlers tips and keep them motivated.

“Every day we weren’t able to practice, we zoomed as a team. We talked a lot about taking responsibility for their own greatness and being independent enough to be able to work to be great without a coach standing there telling them what to do,” Connell said.

By late December, the suspension of in-person sports and extracurricular activities was lifted and sports were able to continue with the rest of the season with health and safety limitations.

“We did a lot of different things this year. Practices were separate between JV and Varsity, we limited partners, wore masks up till we started wrestling, took temps every day, etc. Since groups were split up we went at different paces as well. Varsity moved quicker since they had more knowledge and JV moved a little slower because they had to pick a lot up,” Connell said.

In the month of January, other sports including boys wrestling, bowling, and basketball were forced to quarantine due to being exposed to COVID-19, causing more set back in terms of practices and meets. Wrestlers continued on with their season by mid-January.

“I think the biggest struggle was just not being able to compete, especially for guys like Ben Kueter ‘23, Kael Kurtz ‘24, and Cale Seaton ‘24. It’s evident early on in their careers that they have big futures. We all want matches, we want to prove ourselves. There were lots of good matches, especially for them that they missed out on. Ones against ranked [wrestlers] that they were looking forward to. It definitely hurt them a lot, but you just [had to] put your head down and keep preparing for your next match. If anything, we were even hungrier for competition,” Marker said.  

Many wrestlers struggled with sports suspensions and quarantines. Nonetheless, when it came down to preparation, wrestlers found their coaches to be one of their main motivators.

“We have had plenty of preparation for our meets. Our coaches do a very good job in practice, so when it comes time to complete it’s all up to us,” Kueter said. “Personally, I have learned a lot this year, and I look forward to using those skills at the upcoming tournaments. The biggest jump I’ve made this season is my conditioning. I think my conditioning is way better compared to last year, and that’s gonna play a big role this year.”

Wrestlers and coaches were able to overcome the challenges they were met with this season by adapting to their environment and remaining motivated. 

“We went back a little before winter break so we got our two weeks of practice in before our competition with West. A big thing for us is visualizing. Our coaches always talk about wrestling a match 100 times in your head before you actually wrestle it.  It makes you more prepared, it boosts your confidence, [it] makes you want to fight,” Marker said. 

As for next season, wrestlers and coaches have high expectations for the team as a whole and hope they won’t face as many limitations as they did this season. 

“I would like to see my teammates be more confident heading into competition [next season]. I feel like some of them have doubt in their abilities, and there is no reason for doubt because we have been putting work in all year,” Kueter said.