Young Wrestling Team Enters Postseason


David Li ’21

Brant Hadzima ’20, a four-year member of the team, has helped newer students learn the ropes.

On a team where the focus is not only to become a better athlete, but also a better person, this year’s wrestlers have been working tirelessly to wrestle harder, stronger, and smarter.
Of the team’s 26-wrestler roster, 14 members are new to the team. The captains’ main goal this year is to instill a love for the sport in new members in hopes that they will return next year. Co-captain Tiki Crider ’20 said, “I just want to get everybody into wrestling, and hopefully inspire a little bit of commitment in them. We have a really young team, and that means that in a couple of years, if everybody sticks with it, then we’ll have a really old and experienced team, which should be awesome.”
The new wrestlers have been quick to contribute, impressing their captains, Seniors, and coaches. According to Head Coach Cooper Puls ’11, about two-thirds of the team’s new wrestlers come in with no prior experience. Crider credited the team’s success at its tri-meet at Canterbury to new team members stepping up to meet the challenge. Thanks to contributions from both experienced and new wrestlers, the team beat all three schools: Forman, Woodhall, and Canterbury.
Due to their own hard work and encouragement from upperclass wrestlers, the new wrestlers have inspired optimism in the team. Coach Puls said, “In some cases, [they have] filled Varsity spots, and in some cases have been really successful at the JV level. They have really brought a lot more to the program than I expected them to in their first year.”
In practice, returners have helped teach the new wrestlers, while also refining their own skills. Coach Puls said the older wrestlers motivate themselves to practice on their own while he works with the newer members. Puls said, “I’m really fortunate to have some Senior leaders who [have] stepped up and filled a leadership role for us.”
Team members have been focusing on working to be better wrestlers and better people rather than only on winning. The team values of humility, conviction, and self-discipline have been essential in many wrestlers’ mindsets.
Although wrestling is both mentally and physically challenging, the team dynamic and support from Coach Puls and the captains encourages the players to keep improving. Mackenzie Huang ’20 said, “We have a really tight team. The friendship and camaraderie of the team is part of [what has] kept me from quitting wrestling.”
As the dual-meet portion of the season comes to a close, the team must shift its focus to the postseason. Not every team member will attend postseason tournaments, but with the entire team working with Coach Brodie Quinn ’10 on strength training, wrestlers hope that their hard work on the mat and in the gym will translate into future success.
The team will travel to the Brunswick School on February 8 to wrestle in the Western New England Tournament.