Wrestling is literally the world’s oldest sport, originating between 100 and 200 B.C. – and labeled as one of the toughest. However, wrestlers do not compete for recognition or for the fan fare. They work out incessantly and compete vigorously for the love of winning and for individual glory.
The Mason High School wrestling team practices every day for two hours and usually has competitions on Saturdays that last the entire day. Senior and team captain Andrew Hauer said a typical practice consists of warm-ups, drills, techniques, and going live, which is an actual match situation.
“The toughest thing about practice is definitely going live and coaches are always yelling at you to go harder and everything,” Hauer said. “You feel completely drained, but you still have to keep going because he is watching and yelling at you because you aren’t doing stuff right, which is no fun.”
Junior Zaid Hamdan said that one of the most difficult things about wrestling is the constant movement and going his hardest even when he feels like giving up.
“A joke amongst a lot of the team is ‘I don’t know why I picked this sport to begin with,’” Hamdan said. “The thing about wrestling that separates every other sport is that you have your own drive. A lot of people will say ‘Fight for your team.’ Well, that’s all good and fun, but in real terms, in wrestling, it is just you. How far you want to go depends on you, so it is that little drive in your head because it will pay off later and you will reap the individual benefits.”
Wrestling differs from other sports in the sense that the accountability rests on the wrestler’s own shoulders. Senior and team captain Jack Stein has been wrestling since seventh grade and enjoys the pressure of wrestling.
“There is a team aspect of it, but really, it is only you on the mat,” Stein said. “It is like the win or loss is on you and I like how you are taking all of the ownership. Winning keeps me motivated, just that feeling.”
Senior Jaimen Hood said wrestling differs from other sports mainly because thae work output is completely different.
“In football and basketball, you come in with a lot of energy, so you’re expected to go out with a lot of energy,” Hood said. “Wrestling you kind of go on with not so much energy, but you have to put out just as much as if you were putting out for a basketball or football game. It’s like working with very little.”
Sophomore and team captain Kamal Adewumi said that when it comes to other sports played at the high school level, wrestling proves to be more challenging with competing individually.
“I think it is harder because you can be going against state placers and state champs, and just the environment in general is a lot different from other sports,” Adewumi said. “It is individual-based, but it is team at the same time. It is kind of different because you don’t really have the energy that football games and basketball get.”
Unlike for other sports where cheering is prevalent, wrestlers compete at meets in front of their parents and do not get much fan fare.
Hood said that because wrestling does not carry a large fanbase or Black Hole, he is more focused on how he is competing.
“When it does come to the glory, you don’t get as much,” Hood said. “You’re very in tune to what you are doing and you’re not focused on what is going on around you. It is like an in the moment kind of thing.”
Hamdan started on the defensive line for the Mason football team in the fall and said that the difference in crowd sizes does affect the sport.
“In terms of the intensity of the match, it is definitely more daunting in wrestling because no matter the size of the crowd, it is still only you out there,” Hamdan said. “The thing about playing football on Friday nights is you can mess up, but I don’t think the whole stadium is going to know you messed up. If you lose in a wrestling match, it doesn’t matter if there are 10 or 10,000 people there, they can all point to you and say he either won or lost.”
Hauer said that when wrestling gets tough, he stays motivated by remembering what he will gain in the long-run.
“I know it is terrible right now, but later in life, it will benefit you a lot more,” Hauer said. “It teaches you life lessons, like discipline and that things will always be hard, but you just have to keep going and push through.”