Wrestling works toward consistency despite gaps in weight classes

Daniel Monahan ’19 prepares for his match against North Plainfield High School on December 15. Monahan beat both of his opponents. Photo: Derek DiGregorio

Daniel Monahan ’19 prepares for his match against North Plainfield High School on December 15. Monahan beat both of his opponents.
Photo: Derek DiGregorio

Last season, the wrestling team took the title of Colonial Valley Conference-Colonial Division champions, and it is eager to repeat that victory this year. The boys lost some top senior wrestlers, including Thomas Miers ’15,  who went 33–3 last year and is now wrestling at Columbia University. However, returners James Verbeyst ’17 and Captain Alex Freda ’16 are confident in the team’s ability to go far in its division and in the county tournament.

“We obviously want to repeat division champs,” Freda said. “We have a pretty good shot at winning county’s, too, and we really want to capitalize on that.”

This confidence stems partly from the addition of some experienced freshmen to the team.

“We have two really good freshmen, Alec Bobchin [’19] and Daniel Monahan [’19]. They should do really well this year,” Verbeyst said.

With its long-term goals in mind, the team also recognizes the importance of setting more short-term goals and focusing on improving each day.

“We would love to win our division again, but I mean at the end of the day that’s part of the big picture,” said Head Coach Rashone Johnson. “But as far as every day goes, as long as they’re working towards improving and leaving practice better than they came in, we’ll get to the big stuff.”  

Even with the added experience in the freshman class, the team is noticing a loss as a result of multiple wrestlers’ not returning to the mats this year. The team currently does not have anyone to wrestle in three different weight classes—106, 160, and 220. This gap in the lineup would mean that the team would automatically go down 18 points at the beginning of each match.

“We’re trying to recruit some kids just to stick out there. Hopefully they’ll get a win here and there,” said Dave Beamer ’16.

While the search is on to find people who might be interested in filling these roles, the team’s main priority is to make sure that each current wrestler is as prepared as possible. With many people on the team who have little-to-no wrestling experience, the veterans have taken on the responsibility of helping their teammates learn and improve.

“Whenever we’re working with someone who’s newer it’s always good to show them new techniques and make sure they see what they’re doing wrong so we can correct it,” Freda said.

“[The experienced wrestlers] are taking the underclassmen under their wing to make sure that nobody gets left behind and everybody’s trying to learn at a good pace,” Johnson said.

The boys believe that helping the new wrestlers get up to speed will help them with another one of their goals, which is to have consistency throughout the roster.

“As a team I hope we’re a little more consistent throughout the lineup, that we don’t have a couple people just pulling us all along,” Freda said. “[I hope that] we’re all just kind of scoring points, winning matches.”

According to the wrestlers, Johnson has emphasized the importance of learning from every match and striving to do better each week.

“Johnson kept talking about how you don’t want to have that one match that you want back,” Beamer said. “So just always look forward to the next match and just wrestle the best you can the next time, and that helps with being consistent.”

Freda, currently the only captain of the team, has been happy with the amount of hard work he has seen from his teammates so far.

“Everyone’s willing to put in the work that really makes a pretty good atmosphere, so no one’s really cutting any corners with that,” Freda said.

However, Freda is not the only one encouraging the rest of his teammates to have a good work ethic. Supporting the team is a responsibility that every wrestler must take on.

“Everybody is leaning on each other, so there isn’t one specific leader,” Verbeyst said. “Everyone’s just trying to improve with everybody else.”

Johnson expects that through this hard work and team leadership, the boys should have nothing stopping them from achieving their longterm goals. Johnson will maintain training aspects from previous seasons.

“We’re going to do what we set out to do, have everybody wrestle a perfect match at the same time, and try to take it as far as we can,” Johnson said.

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