For the Fall: Northwood wrestling leaves it all on the mat

COUNT+THE+PINS%3A+Senior+Aiden+Tak+holds+his+opponent+during+a+match+at+the+Lancer+Open.

Aryav Nagar

COUNT THE PINS: Senior Aiden Tak holds his opponent during a match at the Lancer Open.

Megha Kishore, Staff Writer

Two players dodge one another, circling amidst the tense air, anxious to see who’s going to slip or step off the mat first. In an instant, one pounces on the other, the crowd roars and a winner is declared. While wrestling may seem like a simple sport, each player’s efforts represent the most important aspect of the sport: hard work. Wrestlers rely on their bodies and need training, conditioning and passion to succeed.

The wrestling season began in November, starting with their first match on Nov. 19 where three wrestlers—juniors David Grannis-Vu and James Armstrong, along with senior Aiden Tak—placed fifth, seventh and third respectively in their first tournament against 29 other schools.

“Wrestling is the sport where anyone who puts the work in can get good at it,” Tak said. “You wrestle people around your size, so it’s down to skill, athleticism, etc., and that comes from hard work.”

As the new season begins, the team has been working to achieve and surpass their successes in CIF last year.

“Right now, I’m aiming to be CIF champion in my division,” Grannis-Vu said. “I want to place at masters and hopefully qualify for State.”

Last year, four wrestlers including Tak, Grannis-Vu and Armstrong qualified for CIF. From this experience, each of these players were able to grow by exercising and training their bodies to become stronger, as well as practicing situational wrestling to prepare for tournaments. These efforts allowed the players to challenge themselves by competing against players with different skills and techniques.

The individual goals of each wrestling team member vary, with some hoping to become CIF champions and others wanting to qualify for CIF. Northwood’s new wrestling coach, Kyle Ennis, began coaching this year and hopes that every wrestler will feel confident enough to compete at least once for the experience. He hopes to build an atmosphere where players are able to grow and learn from one another to better themselves as wrestlers and achieve their goals.

As a new coach, Ennis has been allowing wrestlers more time for rest and recovery through shorter practices that focus more time on weight room and conditioning skills.”

“My mantra for the team is to believe, and I’m starting to see them believe in themselves, in the team, in their abilities,” Ennis said. “It’s satisfying to see.”

As a new coach, Ennis has been allowing wrestlers more time for rest and recovery through shorter practices that focus more time on weight room and conditioning skills. The team also has dedicated film days where they study their past matches, fostering a comfortable environment where everybody can learn from their mistakes.

Ennis’ changes stem from his own 12-year experience as a jiu-jitsu black belt and grappler, a form of martial arts with hand-to-hand combat. He has competed globally, fighting world champions on the mat.

“It’s hard coming in and being the new guy, but I feel as we spend more time together it becomes easier,” Ennis said. “Everybody gets in the rhythm and understands the theme I’m trying to build for the team.”

As the team continues season, there is only one major concern: program size. While the team is growing in strength and determination, they hope that more players, especially girls and those in lower weight classes, will join to make the team even stronger.

“Coming off of COVID it’s been hard to get people interested,” Grannis-Vu said. “I mainly hope that we rebuild the team.”

Despite this challenge, the team has continued to participate in competitions and CIF with the hope that others will be inspired to join. Eventually, the team hopes to expand with a self-sustaining girls team and have wrestlers competing in every weight category.

“We’re trying to be headstrong wrestlers and go until the wheels fall off but also rest,” Ennis said. “We’re just going to keep competing and wrestling and hope for the best.”