On Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024, the Berkeley High School wrestling team had their only home meet of the season in the Donahue Gym. The team fought against Tennyson and Hayward High School and claimed their ultimate victory, beating both schools.
The event was a dual meet, which is when wrestlers are matched up with an opponent in the same weight group as them. As opposed to this, in high school wrestling there are also competitions against dozens of schools that are done in a bracket system for which wrestlers are again separated by weight group. Arthur Wesig, a senior BHS wrestler, described having to cut down on weight for the meet stating that “there are certain weight groups and you got to cut weight. You want to be at the very top of your weight group, so you get the most advantage,” he said.
BHS started off against Hayward with waves of wins and losses. BHS began strong, winning the first few matches by a landslide. As the matches continued, Hayward started gaining momentum and BHS faced several losses. Despite this, BHS wrestlers adapted to their respective opponents during the span of their matches with the help of their coaches and teammates who were shouting words of encouragement and advice on the sidelines. Eventually, BHS wrestlers prevailed and broke through, winning their last few matches with pins, which is when a wrestler is able to “pin” their opponent’s shoulders onto the mat which immediately ends the match.
Some flexibility had to be made, as the teams didn’t have wrestlers of the same weight group. Benjamin Blair, a sophomore on the team, shared not feeling any nerves despite having to be pushed up a weight group and going against someone “almost 12 pounds heavier” than him. “I didn’t really feel much during the match because I’m kind of used to it, and I know I put in work before coming here. Like being nervous doesn’t do me any good. So I wasn’t nervous,” he said.
Wrestling relies on weight and strength but is also a very technical sport involving a lot of skill. In order to prepare for matches, BHS wrestlers described preparing themselves mentally and practicing their technique. Shiella Paredes-Akimoto, the captain of the BHS girls wrestling team, recalled her match, reflecting on skills she wanted to improve on.
“I’d say I definitely work on transitioning between one pinning maneuver to another. There was a moment in the match where I tried to transition and my head wasn’t in the right position … So it’s something I’m going to take into practice and work on,” Paredes-Akimoto said.
After taking a break during Tennyson and Hayward’s matches, Berkeley returned to the mats wrestling against Tennyson, going back and forth between wins and losses. Behind the intense matches, much teamwork could be seen as wrestlers and coaches shouted from the sidelines to advise those on the mats. After a long line of matches, Berkeley won the last match through a forfeit from Tennyson, winning against both Hayward and Tennyson.