Wrestling Against Covid

Short season, no problem for Coach Buck and his team.


Kyle Stevens

Cherokee Trail’s wrestling team is warming up to start practice on Mar. 4, one day before Region 2’s regional match which was hosted by CT. “Some changes I had to do were practice harder and longer with having matches go by faster. I had to switch up my warm up,” says Derek Glenn Jr. (11), State champion searching to return to the podium once again. That week’s practice, along with all season soon showed to pay off, during the next two days of competition.

The Cherokee Trail Wrestling team knew it was going to be a struggle coming into the season without a pre-season and protocols that make practicing hard.
As a social studies teacher and the wrestling team’s coach, Coach Buck feels “our biggest thing is that our preseason and postseason are so important to our kids… I think it was a challenge for us but you know in the shortened time that we had, we’re able to have wrestling, our kids and coaches did an awesome job.” Coach Buck also states to one of his wrestlers, “ I think, you especially were able to get 10-12 matches probably, which is a lot for, any one guy, because I know a lot of teams only got their kids a couple matches.” This group of coaches, and even wrestlers, were able to adapt to the Covid protocols and do so good at their job as a team, and as a reward, more matches were given.
Though the team was great at preserving through Covid protocols and becoming overachievers, this didn’t change the fact that the wrestlers had to adapt to the shortened, challenged season. “My performance was affected without a fully functional pre-season because I was unable to perfect or be as good at certain techniques that in the time beforehand, I could have performed a lot better during the season,” said Kyle Schuman (11). This did not stop Schuman, for he still did much extra work, and continued to push through every situation like it was his last.
In wrestling the athletes often have to find a way to ‘embrace the suck’ and push forward. “In wrestling, something is always going to be hurting whether it’s a wrist, shoulder, or in my case an ankle. There’s a point when you get up and just say ‘screw it’ and keep grinding no matter how much pain you may be in,” states Jackson Kuhl (11). Kuhl was new to wrestling this year, but he never stops grinding. Kuhl goes on to say, “You are willing to go to war for your brothers each and every day, and in reality we do, a 6 minute legal street fight.” Athletes who compete in wrestling don’t just wrestle, they make everyday a purpose, a brotherhood.
Matthew Buck (11), sadly did not qualify for state, but he said,“God has a plan for you and when it’s your time you have to be able to throw all the chips on the table and go to battle.” Buck is not going to let this disappointment bring him down but see this as an opportunity to grind, work harder than everyone else so he can be the best and make it his time next season.
“It allowed me to push myself to do things when I don’t feel like it. This prepares me for when in life I have to do things that are good for me despite me not wanting too,” says Brendan Grote (10). “It takes a certain kind of crazy to wanna be the best. That means going in during off days to surpass everybody else,” says Finnegan O’Riley (11). Schuman also states, “…afterward it helps gain mental confidence in yourself and you realize that not many people can do what you are doing. The sacrifice that I make to go to those extra practices are what help me catch up with better competition.” The team had to practice many times when others weren’t not only because of the shortened season, but because with every practice you become even better, more prepared.
The team always talks about trying to get in the best shape, and being able to drive their opponents in the long run. The team itself, coaches and wrestlers alike often say, “nothing beats the feeling of taking your opponent into deep, deep water and feel them crumble beneath you.”