Decoding wrestling one physical, mental test at a time


Junior Daniel Ellison (right) wrestles Flanagan opponent (left) at the BCAA championship tournament on Jan. 26.

The sound of referee whistles fills the gym. The stench of sweat tingles in the wrestlers’ noses. Bodies being thrown left and right, the boys aren’t fazed. They have prepared for this all season. This is the Broward County Athletic Association (BCAA) Championship Tournament, where the training of Florida high school wrestlers will be put to the test. Only the most determined will make it to the end and bask in victory.

It’s a real wake up call; you realize you’re here to compete and [leaving without] medaling is not an option. [Walking] through those gym doors, you see all the teams in the bleachers [as] you [go] by, [and] you feel their intense stares following your every step. Definitely the toughest mental test I’ve ever faced,” junior Daniel Ellison said, describing the rollercoaster of emotions he felt when he first entered the gym.

The wrestling team recently made it to the championships where they placed 10th out of 31 teams, despite only having six wrestlers. A full team consists of 14.

Over the course of the season, the team lost approximately 50 (combined individual) matches but claimed victory in around 100. Before going up against their rivals Cypress Bay, Nova and Cooper City, the boys had to do drill after drill to prepare. One of their favorite drills is referred to as “king of the hill.” This drill pits each wrestler against each other until only one is left. For certain schools, practices were elongated to make sure the boys were prepared to their fullest.

“We had 3-hour long practices, compared to everyone else who practices for an hour. We upped our conditioning and practiced to defend their favorite moves,” junior Eros Arias said.

Wrestling is one of the most strenuous and exhausting sports–the amount of physical and mental endurance required physically is extreme.

“You can ask anyone who has played multiple sports, [and they will tell you] wrestling is the hardest. The matches only last for 6 minutes because [they are] so physically exhausting [that] if [they] were longer, no one would be able finish,” senior Ethan Chiappelli said.

Junior Alvaro Molina agreed that wrestling is “taxing on the body.”

One of the most difficult things to accomplish according to the wrestlers is “making weight.” This means that they have to lose or gain a certain amount of weight in a matter of days to be eligible to compete in their weight class. Each wrestler has their own techniques to cut down to their needed weight. For example, Chiappelli’s method is to eat a minimum amount of calories and drink as little water as possible on a daily basis. On the other hand, Molina’s routine is to drink a great deal of water to “sweat more at practice” and decrease the amount slowly as the match approaches. These are simpler methods to cutting weight quickly. More drastic measures are occasionally taken depending on the circumstance of the wrestler.

“People [sometimes] sit in saunas with clothes on, and as a last resort, spit all day [long] hoping to lose some ounces,” Arias said.

As opposed to sports like basketball and football, wrestling is completely individual. In a wrestling match, there are no teammates to point fingers at for mistakes and slip ups, as everything is on the one wrestler.  As Chiapelli said, “You have no one to blame except yourself.” Because of the individuality of this sport, wrestlers are required to be mentally tough.

At the end of the day, the person who has practiced the hardest and wants to win more is going to be successful,” Molina said.

Not only does wrestling shape a person physically, but it also builds the athlete’s character and mind. Eros said the time and determination put in by the athletes taught him to respect others and to appreciate his team.

Quoting famous wrestler Jordan Burroughs, Arias said, “You can tell a lot about a man by the way he wrestles.”