By Brian Park
Executive In-Depth Editor|
Looking forward to winning the regional and division championship, the boys wrestling team is ready to kick off the season, back with a well-rounded group with athletes divided among each of the 14 weight classes set for the competitive schedule this year.
Because they did not win the division championship and also lost regionals by a narrow margin last year, wrestling coach Tom Whalen is hoping the team can win this year.
“Lately, we’ve been pretty successful so far as wins and losses, so we would like to think we can continue that success,” Whalen said.
This year, there are 70-80 student athletes in the wrestling program, according to Whalen. Unlike other years, Whalen thinks the team is spread out more this year in terms of athletes being in the different 14 weight classes at Prospect. With this layout, there are going to be athletes who are competitive at each weight class, especially since the program does not cut any athletes wanting to join.
“I think [it] could potentially put us in a position where we could be the best well-rounded team we had here in four years,” Whalen said.
However, it becomes challenging to determine which players will be on the varsity lineup to Whalen. The rest of the players are then either placed in JV, the freshman level, or exhibition matches.
According to Whalen, the athletes are putting in a lot of effort into the program by attending morning and night practices, as well as having a competitive schedule, one of the best in the state. Having a competitive conference prepares the team for the postseason.
“It has to do with the effort from our wrestlers,” Whalen said. “We’ve done things the same since we got here, the staff that we’ve put together, and it’s just a matter of them improving inside the system.”
Senior Shola George has been in the wrestling program since his freshman year and is currently one of the leaders of the team. He decided to join because his brother was also on the team. George won his freshman conference and later qualified for state during his junior year.
George wants the team just to be focused on going out to wrestle and doing their best. One of the biggest challenges for him will be wrestling his best in matches while having solid technique.
“It all depends on our practice that week,” George said. “And from there on, I’m just going make known I practiced well enough to wrestle this week, so I need to give it my best.”
During practice, the team is both friendly and competitive, according to George, and they are just trying to make each other better.
The team practices throughout the school week after school and also on Saturdays to get better and help prepare for the competition with other schools.
“I think the quality of our practices are getting better each year, just because of the time commitment and the level of competition that has improved in our room over the last few years, ” Whalen said.
Looking further into the season, George hopes to see improvement within the team as well as himself.
“We just want to do better with what we do and become the best in what we can do because we go out there and fight on the mat,” George said. “The biggest change[from last year] is [that] we learned from last year’s lessons and we’re going to try to do better than we did last year.”