Wrestle-offs breed stronger, fiercer Wildcats

Haley Haines, News Editor

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 The starting lineup, if you will, for wrestling is very fluid. There are 14 weight classes, and only one from each is allowed to be on varsity for each meet, says assistant coach Michael Vander Linden

   Each week, the team has something called challenge matches where two people from the same weight class compete to see which one is applicable for varsity for the following meet.

   Here at Burlington, freshman Gage Shetler and junior Johnathon Williams both tie for the 113-lb weight class. Whoever ends up winning will take the next meet, but nothing is ever set in stone. Things are constantly changing in this sport.

   Coach Vander Linden has a few things to say about this: “Challenge matches give wrestlers the opportunity to prove themselves. They continue to make me proud each week with their dedication and performance.”

   As the season progresses, the athletes start to know their place and how well they can execute each meet, alhough any two people can still challenge if they are up for it.

   Johnathon has this to say: “I love that it’s not like any other sport because it’s not favorites or who the coach thinks is better; it really is the person at the number one spot.”

   He says he usually prepares by eating less days in advance and only drinking water because it is important to be within five pounds of the weight he challenges in.

   Two minutes before the match, he warms up his muscles and tells himself, “If you don’t win, you’ll be on JV,” and that does it for him.

  He also mentioned that the scheduled day for challenge matches are every Wednesday before the next meet.

   As State rolls around, Burlington is expected to have the best wrestlers available. “Each week, we have the top people because of challenge matches. Pending injuries, we always have our best feet forward,” he says.

Freshmen Eli Crutchfield and Tyler Kirkby drop into their stance ,ready to brawl for a coveted place on varsity. (PHOTO: Topainga Hernandez)

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