This could be a good season for the Englewood wrestling team although the athletes didn’t get off to a great start in the first action of the year at the Dec. 1 Warrior Invitational Tournament.
Coach Jim Potter said the 26 athletes are out for the team are the most he has had in his years heading up the wrestling program. He added that eight or nine of the athletes are returning varsity veterans.
“We took eight of our wrestlers to the Warrior Invitational, a tournament with a lot of teams where competition is very tough” Pirates coach Jim Potter said. “Our kids wrestled hard but we only had one guy place as Shane Memefee took sixth place at 145 pounds.”
Potter also had the assistant coach take 16 wrestlers to a meet at Fairview High School. It wasn’t a tournament in the traditional sense but it was designed as an opportunity for young wrestlers to get mat experience.
Coach Potter said the early report he received is that all the wrestlers got four or five matches and several got at least two wins.
The Pirates were on their home mat Dec.6 against Lutheran High School and then are scheduled to travel to Thomas Jefferson High School Dec. 8. They are back at home Dec. 12 against rival Alameda. The Alameda match will be wrestled in the Englewood High School field house. The varsity matches begin at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students with school identification.
“We have a lot of kids which is great,” Potter said during a recent practice. “The only problem we have is that we have a lot of kids at the same weight. We have 26 guys but we only have two guys under 130 pounds so we’ll forfeit the lighter weights.”
He said he expects the team to do pretty well this season because he has quite a few returning lettermen.
“Of course, Damasjae (Currington) should do well this year. He qualified for state last year and really wants to get back down there again,” the coach said. “I also expect good things from Nolan Severa, Matt Hiibschman, Shane Menefee, Cody Mikulecky and a couple other veteran wrestlers.”
He said, among the newcomers, Ben McFarland and Angelo Sandoval have done very well in the early practice sessions.
“This is my first year wrestling, I wanted to try something new to keep in good physical condition and my friends said I should do well so I came out for the team,” Sandoval, a sophomore, said. “It is so much harder than I thought it would be. It required a lot of dedication and, if you aren’t dedicated, it isn’t the team’s fault it is your fault if you don’t do well in matches.”
He said he didn’t know what to do when he came to his first practice and he was paired with Damasjae Currington which turned out to be a good thing.
“That guy (Currington) is amazing. He is a great teacher and I have learned a lot from him,” he said. “Of course, I have a lot more to learn but, thanks to Damasjae, I feel like I am doing pretty well.”
He said he is strong and has good quickness which should help him when he gets into competition as well as the wrestling moves he has learned from Currington.
Teammate Matt Hiibschman, a junior and a returning letterman, said he is sort of glad to be back on the mat.
“I quickly found out that being in good shape for football doesn’t mean you are in good shape for wrestling,” he said as he caught his breath during the Nov. 28 practice.
“The coach has us working hard on wrestling moves. But we are doing a lot of conditioning to build our stamina so we can wrestle hard for a full six minute match when the season starts.”
He said he is a lot more prepared for wrestling this year.
“Last year, I wasn’t sure of my moves and I would often hesitate which isn’t a good thing against a veteran opponent,” Hiibschman said.
“This year, I have a lot more confident in my wrestling skills and feel a lot more sure about the moves I make on the mat.”
He said he likes the standing position and his favorite move is the fireman’s carry. He said he won 11 of his matches last year using the fireman’s carry.
“I am stronger this year and, while I gained about 15 pounds for football, I am working hard to lose some of that weight,” the junior said. “I am down to 152 right now and I am confident I lose a few more pounds so I can wrestle at 145 for just about all the matches this season.”