Athletes share struggles, successes

Eric Pabon, Entertainment Editor

   Reaching State is a profound accomplishment in any sport. However, in wrestling, it takes an immense amount of effort.

   The winter season is the longest, starting in November and lasting until late February/early March.

   Also, wrestling may be the most grueling, as the practices are intense. Coach Michael Vander Linden says, “Practices are very physically draining.”

   He says, “We’re a big believer in losing weight as you drill. We do run, but we work hard during practice. We always have that ‘work harder, and harder’ mind set.”

   Senior Damon Hoback qualified for State at 160 pounds. Damon says that during the season it took everything it had in him, plus extra, to work for State.

   “My weight class is one of the toughest in Kansas. Leading up to State, the competition got increasingly harder,” he says.

   Three of the girls from the team qualified as well. The competition for girls wrestling is accelerating each year as well.

   Senior Bryleigh Isch says, “More girls are going out because it’s officially sanctioned now. Since it started in 2020, there’s finally a tournament where you get to see the best of the best, and you can see the girls who’ve competed for six plus years.”

   Junior E’owynn Codney claims that qualifying for State was different this year. One had to place top four in three tournament: Districts, Regionals, and Substate.

   “Qualifying means a lot for me since I didn’t get the opportunity my freshman year because girls wrestling wasn’t sanctioned yet,” she says.

   Standing on that podium at the end of a long and grueling season was the ultimate goal for these wrestlers.

Wrestling State qualifiers hold up blankets made to celebrate their accomplishments. (Michaela Divoll)