Boys’ Wrestling starts season with positive mindset

Last Friday night, I had walked into Neuqua Valley to experience my first wrestling match in person. I had somewhat of an idea of what to expect with my background knowledge on how wrestling matches usually go.

But per usual, my actual experience with our wrestling team on Friday was nowhere near what I was hoping to expect. And although, the varsity team lost to Neuqua, losing 48-21, the boys were still able to keep a smile on their faces, knowing that the season was still early.

“[Wrestling] makes life easier. You put in so much hard work in the room, and nothing really compares to it,” sophomore Josh LaBarbera said.

While wrestling is more of an individual sport, the boys have had a lot to be proud of over the past couple of seasons in the young program. Last season, five wrestlers qualified at the IHSA Sectionals tournament while multiple wrestlers placed in the Top Five of each of their events.

“[Wrestling] builds so much character. We learn so much from it that it’s not like any other sport, you learn from every single match, and you can only blame yourself,” junior Brandon Hing said.

With a lot of hard work and time commitment required, many of the athletes on the team spend their offseasons doing extra training, lifting, and playing other sports like football in the fall and baseball in the spring.

“I look forward to every match, but not necessarily because of the matchups. [It’s] because whether we win or lose, it’s not the biggest [deal]. It’s more are the [athletes] improving,” head coach Claudio Torres said.

And while the wrestling team is putting in the outstanding effort and training, they are working to improve as a whole team and as individual players for the season. “We got a young team, but definitely hungry [and] ready to get better. [We had] a lot of strong performances. The team score didn’t come, but we got a couple hurt kids and a couple kids ineligible. We’ll be up to full strength pretty soon, and we’ll be ready for State in February,” LaBarbera added.