Meet the team on the mat: Get to know the wrestling team

By Mia Stephanoff and Sofia Gualdoni

If there’s contact, there’s a foul called. But not in wrestling. This physical sport requires high intensity filled with body slamming and hits to the face. Wrestlers display their strength and skill in every match which means constant practice and with practice comes results. This is junior and captain Preston Auld’s fourth year of wrestling, and all his work has been paying off but he continues to strive for more each day. 

My biggest accomplishment is being a two-time regional qualifier,” Auld said. “My two main goals this season are to place at individual states as well as to place at every individual tournament.”

After accomplishing these high feats, Auld had a change of heart when it came to his athletic priorities by putting wrestling first.  

“I initially started wrestling because I heard it makes you a better football player,” Auld said. “After my first high school season, I did really well and decided to make it my main sport.” 

 The Captains this season were all appointed by head coach Jaron Nelson based on the qualities captains should have that he had seen in them. Along with Auld, seniors Michael Salvador, Andrew Dupree, and Jacob Nowicki are Captains. 

“I made those four captains specifically because of their leadership skills on and off the mat,” Nelson said. 

After coaching alongside old head coach Derek Davidson as his assistant coach, Nelson was eventually given the chance to become the head coach and speaks highly of the wrestling program.

“It’s been nothing but amazing being able to lead such a wonderful program,” Nelson said. 

As veterans on the team, the Captains help lead their teammates. And with a larger team than last year, this means newcomers have been welcomed and encouraged throughout this season to come out of their shells. 

Junior Ethan Bailey often takes newcomers under his wing helping them to find their way on the wrestling team.  

“I would try my hardest to help any of the younger kids struggling with moves,” Bailey said. 

One newcomer the team welcomed is sophomore Morri Walter. In this male-dominated sport, Walter was originally intimidated to join but ultimately decided to because of the support she received from friends and teammates. 

“I had a handful of upperclassmen friends who had talked to me about it last year,” Walter said. “My first week I would just sit in the corner, not really knowing what to do, [but] Ethan Bailey helped me a bunch with getting into it.”

Taking Walter under his wing this year is Bailey. Walter is new to wrestling this year and looks up to Bailey. 

“I always did anything I could to help Morii,” Bailey said. “I know male athletes can be a little aggressive towards females, so at meets, I would try to make sure she always felt safe and part of our team.” 

With her teammates’ support, Walter has become comfortable in the sport and gains even more support from her coach Lisa Gonzalez whom she truly admires. When Walter won her first pin, the first person she searched for was Gonzalez.

Getting her first pin was a huge accomplishment for Walter as she faces a lot of challenges being the only girl on the team. The weight gap between her and her teammates can make practicing against them difficult. 

“With me being in the smallest weight class, there’s two empty weight classes than another guy,” Walter said. “There’s a good gap between us there, at least I can work the moves though.”

By getting to practice certain skills and moves against guys in a higher weight class have benefited her, especially when Walter goes up against girls her size. 

“I’m sitting here being able to at least lift up the 126 lb guy over my shoulder and flip him over,” Walter said. “So when I go against these 90 lb girls, I can slam them into the mat.”

Though some of these factors can make wrestling difficult especially for Walter, she still has a passion for the sport along with one of the Captains Auld.

“We are working hard every day to be the greatest that we can,” Auld said. “I am most excited about team districts because we have a very solid team and I think we have a good chance of making team regionals.”

Editor’s note: Junior Ethan Bailey is quoted as a member of the wrestling team. Upon the publication date of this issue, he is no longer a part of the team. 

Click here for photos of the wrestling match