Wrestling is one of the toughest individual sports in which any high school athlete can compete and it takes a special type of personality to be successful on the mat.
Members of the Brookings-Harbor High School wrestling team warm up prior to a team practice in the Gibney Center at the high school. The Pilot/Jef Hatch
“Ninety percent of wrestling is mental,” Brookings-Harbor High School senior C.J. Paxton explained. “If you don’t want it, you won’t win.”
For many, wrestling is something where the allure of a possible championship without having to depend on teammates’ efforts is worth the effort the sport requires.
“I like the fact that everything I do is me, and I don’t have to rely on anyone else to win a match,” Paxton – who has been wrestling for six years – explained. “But I have to give credit to my team because they make me who I am today.”
For some, the dedication required to excel in wrestling proves to be too much and the team numbers shrink as the district tournament nears.
“The hardest part is getting into wrestling shape,” senior, and 10-year wrestling veteran, Brandon Holteen explained. “That’s because there really isn’t a top-notch shape for wrestling; you just have to keep getting better.”
The team practices every weekday that they don’t have a meet but, according to senior Cole Hannan, practice alone isn’t enough to be a champion.
“Practices will get you through the first two periods of a match,” he said. “Cardio training outside of practice is the only thing that will get you through the third and final period.”
While preparing for championship competition takes a toll on the BHHS wrestlers both mentally and physically, it also affects how they eat.
“I try to not eat as much junk food,” freshman Kevin Brambila said. “It’s not really that tough to ignore the bad stuff and focus on the good, but I have to make weight.”
Weight requirements – affected by workouts and diet – can affect whether a wrestler can compete in certain weight classes.
According to Head Coach Dave Freeman each wrestler is given a hydration test at the beginning of each season and then they can only lose a certain number of pounds per week, based on their body fat percentage and starting weight.
“Someone who is at seven percent body fat doesn’t really have any room to lose weight,” he explained. “And if a wrestler that is heavier loses more weight by working out, they still have to compete at the weight class their weight card says they should be at.”
According to Freeman the sometimes dangerous practice of cutting weight to get into a lighter weight class has been largely dealt with with the introduction of the weight loss plan.
“Because they can only compete in weight classes determined by their starting weight, there isn’t much cutting,” he said. “But what does happen is those kids with low body fat work really hard to be at the weight they want to wrestle at right at the beginning of the season.”
Regardless of the requirements, the wrestlers who proudly call themselves Bruins are working on being ready for the Far West League District Championships which will be held Saturday, Feb. 2 at the North Bend High School.