Winter Sports Preview: Wrestling

Samuel Richardson, Photo Editor

Wrestling season is finally starting, and this 2019-2020 season is going to be the biggest for a few dedicated seniors who plan on competing in college. Wrestling is the most vital sport to learn takedown techniques for self-defense. Wrestling requires a serious amount of discipline and respect for your opponent, which translates to discipline in other aspects of your life, such as academics and overall fitness.

Wrestling also takes a lot of devotion and persistence, the season runs from late November into late February with practices every day after school until around 5:45 p.m. and optional weekend practices. Going into a sport that has such a large time commitment involves a lot of time management, especially because midterms fall in the middle of the season.

Hunter Gilpin (12), is very excited for the season to start because this will be his last chance to show colleges his potential. Gilpin wrestles in the heavyweight class and has been dedicated to the sport ever since middle school. “Wrestling is the only sport where you can’t blame anyone but yourself for your shortcomings and the amount of persistence and heart you leave on the mat is unparalleled compared to any other sport,” said Gilpin about his focus for the season, “I’ve been doing a lot of summer camps to help me stay in the wrestling mindset.”

Many parents are uncomfortable with letting their kids wrestle, even though the fast-paced game of basketball causes more injuries per year to athletes then wrestling does. Gilpin said that freshmen and sophomores have come up to him this fall asking questions about wrestling, “which shows a promising future for our team. However, an unfortunate amount of younger kids say their parents don’t want them participating out of fear of getting injured or having to work too much.”

The difference between a decent athlete and an exceptional athlete is the amount of offseason training they do. Gilpin has been busy with this, “I’ve been following a weightlifting program and doing cardio multiple times a week to keep myself in shape. The only other sport I participate in is football, which is a good workout,” said Gilpin.

Unfortunately, Coach Stryker Lane was unable to coach this year due to health concerns, which has affected the wrestlers, “My biggest setback is during practice is that I have no one who wrestles heavyweight to spar with, so I normally just ended up wrestling Coach Lane,” said Gilpin, “It just means I have to step up my training and thankfully new athletes who are close to my weight have joined this year.” Coach Paul Bonner has taken on coaching solo, but he occasionally has other people from the Manitou Springs community come by to help out.

Benjamin Schwartz (12) has run cross country all four years of high school and is taking up wrestling for the first time. Schwartz is a very involved student who is in many clubs and afterschool activities. He wants to do three sports as a senior because it is his last chance to participate in any athletic programs at Manitou, “I’ve always liked wrestling with my friends and hope I can bring something new to this program,” said Schwartz.

Many upperclassmen newcomers are trying to compete in wrestling for the first time this season, such as juniors Rylan Dowling and Lukas Jacobson, both have never participated in sports at Manitou before this year. Jacobson said, “Wrestling is something I’ve always been interested in, but it took some convincing from my friends to get me on the mat this year. I have always been very lean, but the process of packing on muscle and getting my calories in has always been a struggle.”

Dowling has not competed in wrestling since elementary school, and his family has a history in the sport, “My dad was a state champion in California and my brother has wrestled his entire middle school career, so I want to set a good example for him when he enters high school next year,” said Dowling, “I always enjoyed wrestling as a kid, but once I moved to Germany I lost interest for a while. Fortunately, my friends insisted that I came out to compete, and it will help me stay in shape for football.”

Orion Lavigne (12) and Emmett Wolfe (11) are both accomplished wrestlers who contributed a lot to the team last year and plan on making it to regionals and state. Having a strong background in other sports translates to wrestling significantly because wrestling involves having both muscular and aerobic strength. However, Wolfe specializes in wrestling and devotes himself to this single sport, something that is very unique for small schools, and still shows this strength.

Many students attended open mats, during the preseason, which is great because having a large turnout at the start of a season shows promising numbers to the program for the future years. In the 2018-2019 season, only ten students participated, which has been estimated to double this year thanks to the number of newcomers.

Two mustangs placed at the first tournament in Fowler, Colorado. Hunter Gilpin placed first in the heavyweight division, and Emmett Wolfe placed second in the 152lb division. Having two students place well in the first tournament of the year sets the bar high for all wrestlers and will push the team to succeed in the upcoming season.