Wildcats Prepare for Another Year on the Mats: Wrestling Preview


Pearson Georges

Junior Hayden Turley pins his opponent during a match at John Burroughs.

As fall sports draw to a close and the weather gets colder, the wrestling team begins another season full of tough workouts and challenging opponents. However, the team hasn’t taken time off since last season. They have lifted, run, and put hours of work in on the wrestling mat to put themselves in the best shape possible for this winter and the ensuing months of competition.

“In the offseason, I did summer strength and conditioning and wrestling clinics twice a week. I never really got out of rhythm, so I’m the best I can possibly be at this point in time,” said Brett St. John, junior.

Last year was a challenging season. The team dealt with lots of aches and pains that disabled some of them from fully participating in practices and matches. Patrick Andrews of the class of 2019 was the only wrestler to continue to state while the rest of the team didn’t make it past districts. However, the team was young and full of potential, so this winter, the boys are especially motivated to do their best and make the most of their gifts.

“Last season we had a lot of injuries but a lot of young guys were able to step up and get better. This year we are looking very strong led by our seniors Clayton Perona and Caelleb Crutcher, and will have a solid lineup with myself, Brett St. John, Mark Stump, Ben Van Zee, and Nolan Jones in our core weight classes. We are hoping to have a lot of guys qualify for the state tournament this year, and it is looking very good for the team,” said Kirk Briden, junior.

One of the wrestlers, senior Clayton Perona was unable to compete at all last year due to a concussion that he got the first day of practice last season. Not being able to participate in the sport that you love is very difficult, but the unfortunate circumstances can often result in a unique perspective on the sport and life. Needless to say, Perona is beyond excited to finally be able to wrestle once again this season.

“I worked a lot over the summer. I probably hit the mats three times a week and have hit the weight room a lot since I was cleared back in April. Being injured and missing the whole season last year makes me more appreciative of wrestling and just exercising in general. I remember feeling amazing after I was finally able to lightly jog again, and now I use that feeling to keep me grateful through all the tough workouts and healthy eating,” said Perona.

In addition, sophomore Nolan Jones is looking forward to improving upon his freshman wrestling season and is continuing to get stronger mentally and physically. Wrestling is a very challenging sport as it is two competitors going at it for six minutes, putting their wills to the test in an intense match of sheer strength and endurance.

“I’m super excited to get back out on the mat. I’m looking forward to using what worked and what didn’t work last year to learn and get better for this upcoming season. I’m really hoping to improve in the mental aspect of the sport this year. For me wrestling is the toughest sport mentally that I play, cause it’s just you against your opponent and no one else,” said Jones.

Overall, the boys are excited to have the opportunity to compete and continue to improve this season. There will be a strong team working out on the wrestling shelf this winter, and if they can stay away from injuries, they are motivated to do well at districts and even possibly make it to state.