Wrestling team dominates Kennedy, finishes fourth at the Mad Mats invitational


Ishaan Ramola

Senior Alex Alfelor wrestles against Kennedy High School. He is one of the leaders on the team and a very important wrestler.

Through the first week of the season, the Wildcats look like a real threat to the rest of the state, performing well at the first two competitions. Wrestling opened up the season Wednesday, Dec. 7 at Kennedy High School. The match, however, proved no real threat to the team, winning with ease 78-0. 

On Dec. 9 at Magruder High School, the Wildcats competed at the Mad Mats Invitational. The team continued their hot start with an impressive fourth place finish out of 18 schools, only finishing behind private schools Landon and Good Counsel and the host Magruder. The Wildcats were led by impressive performances from sophomore Bahdan Kurepkin and junior Sawyer Chism who both finished third in their weight class.

“I think what has impressed me most about the team so far is that we are getting a lot of bonus points in matches. At Mad Mats we finished with the most pins of any team at the tournament. So when we get the opportunity to finish the match, we are taking advantage of it. That helps with tournament scoring, but it will help even more come dual meet time,” coach Brian Frantz said.

Despite the fact that seven individuals placed top six in their weight class, the team feels like there is still improvement needed in order to reach their full potential.

“While there is some satisfaction with placing well, a lot of us felt like we could have done better. We knew there was a lot of work to be done when we got back to practice,” senior Sang-Woo Hwang said.

Mad Mats Invitational provides a way for the team to face off against good competition and get an understanding of what needs to be worked on throughout the rest of the season.

“I think for the most part, we are where I want us to be at this point of the season. The best part about having Mad Mats early in the season is getting a lot of film and mat time. So now we have a full week of practice before our next competition and we can work on fine tuning the things we did well, and trying to fix the things we didn’t do well,” Frantz said.

The success so far is mainly due to the work put in during the off-season. The team spent time at Yamasaki Academy, a martial arts school, improving each wrestling technique in order to prepare for the season.

“A lot of us worked hard in the off-season lifting weights and practicing technique at Yamasaki Academy. Going into Mad Mats was a big test for us to see if our work paid off,” Hwang said.

It is still early in the season so Frantz is telling his wrestlers to focus on one match at a time and not look ahead on the schedule. 

“We are going to take each dual meet and event one at a time, all the way down to each individual match, it’s all one at a time. I try to preach to the kids that they should always be chasing the next points. If they are winning or losing in the match, going after the next score will yield good results,” Frantz said.

The next competition for the team is Saturday, Dec. 17 at Wootton High School against Wootton and Churchill. The match will be tough, especially since Churchill was the state runner-up last year and also the school that knocked the Wildcats out of the playoffs. The team, however, feels ready for the matchup and is hopeful to continue their winning ways.

“I feel like the team is well prepared for the Churchill and Wootton match. The newer guys on varsity getting match experience at Mad Mats made them better prepared for what’s to come on Saturday as they now understand the physical, mental and emotional stress that comes from a match,” senior Grady Hutton said.