Wrestling works towards a repeat

Jonah Evarts, Sports Editor

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Manhattan High wrestling has a chip on its shoulder after winning the state championship last year, along with a Centennial League title. After losing an exceptional class of seniors, including state champion of the 145 weight class, Mason Wallace, the team looks to prove themselves once again. They still have a reigning state champion in the 152 weight class, and recent Oklahoma State commit in senior Jalin Harper.

“My expectations are to win another state title,” head coach Robert Gonzalez said. “Our first and foremost goal is to always win a league championship, which we’ve done the past two years, and that’s something we’re really proud of. The second goal would be to win the super regional… it covers a wide pattern of the state and it’s very important we qualify as many athletes as possible [from super regional] to go to the state championship.”

There is a lot of preparation involved in getting ready for such a rigorous season, and for many wrestlers the off-season is completely filled with work.

“What we have done since August is what we call conditioning-wrestling in the fall months,” Gonzalez said. “So the kids that don’t have fall sports, they’ve been working out three times a week at a facility here in town and been coached by the club coaches. That’s hard to do because kids are giving up time after school hours, and there’s no reward. The reward is that when the season starts they’re in shape. We’ve taken that same group and taken them to a couple of college clinics.”

There are only 11 upperclassmen returning, including only five seniors. The total number of wrestlers is 51 for the team, so that means that there are a quite a few underclassmen entering the program. This requires a lot of new training to make sure that they can compete and contribute right off the bat.

“We lost 10 seniors, and eight of those seniors started for three years, so they’re gone and replaced,” Gonzalez said. “We’re very young, which is okay. Only three of the five seniors wrestled from last year, so we are blessed with 40 freshman and sophomores. So the teaching curve is going to be a little more difficult to start with, but they’re athletes. If you’re an athlete, and you’re working hard for us a couple of hours every night, our job is to teach you how to wrestle.”

The state title is the ultimate goal the team will always be aiming for, especially since with last year’s win they have two championships in five years.

“You will never ask me ‘did you go to state’,” Gonzalez said. “Your question will always be at the end of the year ‘how did you do at state’.”

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Wrestling works towards a repeat