By LUCAS BEDNAREK
For The News-Letter
On Saturday, Hopkins wrestlers congregated in the athletic center for the Jays’ annual Black and Blue Brawl. Blue Jay wrestlers participated in a series of matchups between squad members, as the team does each year in this preseason event.
At this point in the season, meets do not quite hold as much gravity, but the team is always thinking of the season ahead.
“Right now, we are just trying to get back into the wrestling mode,” junior Alex McLauglin said. “Every match is important, but as we get deeper into the season they become more and more important.”
At this point in the preparation for the season, the team’s early efforts are paying off, and the team is happy with where it currently stands, according to McLaughlin.
“As a whole, we have worked out harder than we ever have this preseason,” McLaughlin said. “I definitely think we are father ahead this year than we have been in years past.”
The team is aware that the season ahead brings challenges, but the players still expect success from themselves and their teammates McLaughlin said.
“I think a good goal for us this year is to have a couple All-Americans,” McLaughlin said. “I’d also like to see us be more successful in conference competition this year. I think we can do both of these things, but it will take a lot of hard work and dedication. As a whole we looked pretty sharp, but we definitely have room to improve.”
According to McLaughlin, there are several factors that will contribute to a successful season for wrestling team. One of these is the continued success of the upperclassmen on the team, as well as impactful efforts by the new freshman class.
“We have a huge freshman class this year,” McLaughlin said. “They are all very talented wrestlers and will definitely have an impact on the team starting immediately. Some of them will be starting this year, and I’m sure they will step up to the challenge.”
Of course, much of the pressure this season can be assumed to be a result of the departure of Paul Bewak, who graduated last year after claiming third place in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) wrestling national championships. Team members are nevertheless confident in the abilities of returning members. “
We have a lot of young guys on the team, and there is definitely some pressure for the upperclassmen to perform extra well… you can always count on captains [senior] Evan Krumheuer and [junior] Jared Forman tearing it up in the practice room,” McLaughlin said.
While wrestling often has an individual focus due to the nature of the sport and its matchups, a healthy team dynamic still ought to help the Hopkins team achieve success this season.
“We are a close team, and we celebrate each other’s successes and learn from each other’s failures,” McLaughlin said.
When examining the team it is clear that there is the potential for success on this team. What the team must be most weary of in this season, however, is injuries, which have given the Hopkins team troubles in the past.
“We’ve always had a huge problem with injuries,” McLaughlin said. “That will definitely be the biggest obstacle this season. We have good coaches, talent and strong work ethic, but we will need to work to stay healthy this year.”
While the wrestlers will focus on maintaining their health, they also look to maintain a high level of enthusiasm from both the athletes and the fans. This enthusiasm was evident at the event on Saturday, Oct. 24 and will hopefully continue throughout the season.
“We had a great turnout for the Black and Blue Brawl,” McLaughlin said. “It’s always great to have a bunch of fans at our events. I think it’s easier to get fired up as an athlete if you have a bunch of people cheering for you.”