Wrestling team perseveres despite lacking numbers

Shelby Lex, Editor-In-Chief

“All in, all match, all season.” We’ve all heard inspirational mottos like this before in sports movies like “Remember the Titans” and “Rudy”, where heart and drive equate to success in the ring or on the field. Yet this motto originates from Liberty’s own wrestling team, where the wrestlers haven’t let their smaller team size hold them back.

A high school wrestling rule mandates that if a team can’t provide a wrestler in a specific weight class, it must forfeit the match, automatically granting six points to the opponent. This rule has proven troublesome for Liberty’s small team. With only fourteen members, six of the fourteen weight classes have been left unfilled. However, Liberty’s team has persevered despite this disadvantage.

“[Our motto] came from the fact that we wanted something that would help us to remember to stay present in the match,” head coach Wright Noel said. “We knew we were going to be a little light on people and so we’d have to go all the time. And that’s one of the key things about wrestling. You just have to battle all the time. You have to go for six minutes.”

At a tournament against Hazen and Highline on January 16, the team was forced to forfeit 12 points due to vacancies in weight classes. Nonetheless, it proceeded to win beat Hazen, 36-29, and lose to Highline, 48-36. The team then clinched another win against Lake Washington on January 22 despite giving up 36 points in forfeits.

Overall, Liberty has still won over half of its dual meets. The team’s style of perfecting skill sets and maintaining mental toughness has contributed in part to its wrestlers’ successes in individual matches.

“We really focus on the fundamentals, keeping our position and trying to score all the time with constant pressure,” Noel said. “We don’t try to be too fancy; we work on the basic moves (single-legs, double-legs), getting them out of position and taking advantage of that, and using our conditioning to our advantage by wearing people out.”

Senior and co-captain Connor Small expressed similar sentiments, attributing the team’s mentality of “working and pushing so hard that the opponent can’t keep up” to a rise in confidence among the wrestlers.

“You have to be confident. That’s what wrestling is. I’d say thirty percent is skills and strength, but seventy percent is mindset,” senior and co-captain Joanna Moreira said. “Before your match, if you think ‘oh no, I’m going up against a State wrestler,’ it can mentally destroy you because you focus more on what they are going to do to you versus what moves you are going to use against them.”

Moreira also said that this confidence and continual drive is the mindset a wrestler needs to place at State. And the team has a big legacy to fulfill; with Liberty wrestlers placing every year since 2008, the team hopes to continue this streak.