Wrestling: A Team Sport With An Individual Mindset


Photo Courtesy of West Springfield Athletics Twitter

The WSHS wrestling team on the mat preparing for a battle against Springfield Central High School.

Molly Kennedy, Sports Editor

The bleachers are full, and a lone spotlight illuminates the mat. The student section roars as they watch two wrestlers try to pin each other to the blue mat. This intensity is what draws audiences to WSHS matches. Wrestling is a very intense contact sport, and the wrestlers in West Side are on the road to surpassing the most wins in a season this 2019-2020 season with a record of 28-2-1.
Head coach Garrett Kendziera, a PE and health teacher at WSHS, has been coaching for eight years along with Tom Svec, Detective Sgt. at the West Springfield Police Station, who has been coaching for 32 years.
In wrestling, there are fourteen weight classes and one person from each weight class competes in each meet. Seven out of the fourteen varsity starters are seniors, which is a very strong class of wrestlers. Five of those seven seniors, Tyler Parent, Kaleb Hogan, Calvin Curtis, Eric Bergeron, and Devin Svec, are 100-time match winners, along with Milton Vasquez, and Dan Sharma who are also senior varsity wrestlers. Additionally, there is a solid group of underclassmen that fill the other seven varsity spots.
It is no secret that wrestlers are in a constant battle in order to maintain their weight because being at the top of your weight class comes with benefits. “I start dieting during the late summer to give myself multiple months to get down to the weight at which I plan to compete,” said senior Eric Bergeron. Wrestlers are typically seen working out inside in long sleeves, pants, and even sweatshirts over in order to sweat off pounds. The main concern wrestlers face is losing weight too fast, however, the wrestlers aim to lose weight safely by dieting. By being more concerned with what they put into their body, it allows each wrestler to maintain their weight, and find what diet works for them. The wrestlers eat healthily to better the team and keep each other on track.

The friendships and brotherhood that I’ve found in this team is something I truly believe no other sport could give me?”

— Daniel Sharma

West Side wrestlers have practice six days a week, every day for about two hours to two and a half hours. They start their practices doing drills and then practice the three positions they wrestle in, along with “live wrestling” which are meet simulations, and then they finish by conditioning. “Whether we are going live or conditioning ourselves, we go 110% every day in order to make ourselves better,” said senior Devin Svec. Their season, although difficult, has paid off in many tournaments in New York and Connecticut where they competed with very high-level teams and won.
Wrestling requires a lot of physical strength, but it also requires a lot of mental toughness and technique. “If you don’t think you can beat the kid, there’s no chance of winning. Mindset is probably the most important part of wrestling,” said Eric Bergeron. There are lot of techniques in wrestling, so strength is not the only component that matters while competing. It is important to stay calm during matches and fall back on your training because wrestlers must be mentally invested in the match. During practices, “You have to try and make the athletes as physically tired as possible and teach themselves to push harder and once they understand they can do it they realize they can do more,” said Coach Kendziera. Winning and practicing for each other is valued greatly on the team, “If we keep on improving and advancing, as a team, we have no limit to what we can do,” said senior Daniel Sharma. They are able to feed off others and keep a winning mentality by working as a team.
Although wrestling is an individual sport, they work as a team in order to achieve their goals. They all have season goals for themselves, however, ultimately the team score at the end of the meet means the most. “The friendships and brotherhood that I’ve found in this team is something I truly believe no other sport could give me,” said Sharma.