(COVINGTON, La) — As of this week, the wrestling season has officially started, and all the wrestlers on the SPS team have been busy getting ready for upcoming competition. From now to February, the team will be heavily preparing for regular season tournaments, as well as the state competition at the end of the season.
With practice and conditioning every day after school, the wrestlers are sure to be ready when competition comes. However, the varsity team is dramatically smaller this year compared to last year, with only one senior competing. Although, the team has many returning experienced juniors to take on the mantle of the former seniors.
“I think this is a great team,” Head Coach Craig Ketelsen said. “After losing ten seniors, people think that we are going to be down, but we really aren’t at all. We have incredible talent; we’re gonna be ready to go.”
This year, a lot of new and inexperienced wrestlers have come out to try the sport. Among the newcomers, most are eighth graders, but upperclassmen have come to try out as well. Many of them have have struggled as rookies, but have come to admire and love the sport.
“Wrestling is fun. I like it, and I don’t think I’m doing too bad,” rookie junior wrestler Bryce Fisher said. “I plan to help the team out and hope I do well… I kinda suck, but I’m working on it.”
This team is seen as an underdog team by many because of the large loss of the seniors from last year. however, many experienced SPS wrestlers are there to fill their places. Returning state place winners such as Shane Ulfers, Jared Thieler, and Cole Houser plan to do even better this year as they prepare for the season, along with varsity wrestlers Grant Hughes, Brandon Stein, and Jake Arena.
“I love wrestling and practicing with the team,” junior wrestler Cole Houser said. “I want to go undefeated this year.”
For many, the sport is a big part of who they are. They love to wrestle and not only make themselves better, but also their fellow teammates. The team is very close in terms of friendship, and are willing to push each other in order to get the best out of one another.
“I think we work together and make each other better every day,” junior wrestler Jared Thieler said. ”It matters who you practice with every day. If you want to get better, you gotta push yourself and push your teammates. It makes me who I am.”
Of course, the wrestlers wouldn’t be anywhere without their experienced coaches. Led by coaches Craig Ketelsen, Mark Leling, and Matt Pinero, the team works hard to follow their guidance in order to achieve success. The coaches coordinate and plan what moves would work best with each wrestler, and aim to form a more tailored and specialized team.
“I’ve been coaching the wrestling team a good bit now, and I enjoy it,” Assistant Coach Mark Leling said. “We’ve got a good group of younger kids and older kids, and I think we’ll have success this year.”
The wrestling team is currently practicing for the season and preparing for upcoming competition. The first tournament will be at Archbishop Rummel on Nov. 5, and the state competition will take place in February.
(Photo’s by Keren Davis and Bryce Fisher)