As other sports start to play games during the high school winter sports season, wrestling remains limited to moderate and low risk activities.
“I put like my whole life into here and the chance – I can’t wrestle, it’s just sad,” said Simsbury senior Saul Pera.
“It’s devastating having it be your last year to wrestle in high school,” added Simsbury senior Ty Finn.
The Trojans are working out in cohorts and focusing on conditioning, strength training and individual skill work.
“We’re going to do what we can within the rules and try and make the experience the best we can for these guys,” said Simsbury wrestling head coach TJ Silva.
It’s not just the guys who are adjusting. Girls wrestling, which held its first state tournament last year, is also sidelined.
“I’m thankful we were able to go out with a bang last year but I wish we could have done the same this year,” said Norwich Free Academy senior Destiny Mateo, who won a state championship last year.
NFA head coach Steve Nelson says this year’s challenges won’t put a stop to the growth of the sports for girls in Connecticut.
“The momentum is still there,” said Nelson. “Everyone is on pause at the moment, which is difficult but I don’t see it slowing down.”
Even without competition, the athletes are making the most of this time they have to train and improve.
“I’m always look to get better and most of the team is, so we’re doing as much as we can now, especially for the underclassmen,” said Finn.
“Their resilience, their work ethic, they take the opportunity regardless of what it is, whether it’s ideal or not and allow them to really just run with it and be grateful for the opportunity to be with their teammates and their coaches,” said Silva.
Keeping a positive attitude and overcoming this adversity is teaching all wrestlers a valuable life lesson.
“It’s just another bump in the road and we’re just going to take it like it is,” said NFA senior and state champion Savannah Vanase. “We’ve just got to be optimistic and look forward to the future.”
“At the end of the day, we are going to get past it and the wrestling season is going to continue so people that want to wrestle should be more anxious than ever,” said Mateo.