By Elena Hammer for Seward City News-
For the first time in nearly ten years, Seward High School hosted the wrestling regional competition. Teams from all over the region gathered to find out who “had it” to make it to the state competition, and who did not.
On Friday, December, 8, matches started at 3 p.m with freshman Anevay Ambrosiani, 15, serenading us with the national anthem. Shortly after, the meet began with the 132 lb weight class. With the bout number on the top, scores in the middle, and time remaining on the bottom, the timing clocks made it easy for spectators (especially those who have no idea how wrestling works, such as myself) to keep up with the meet’s fast-moving pace. As a swimmer, I am used to odd smells and loud noises, but I have truly underestimated the extremes of a high school wrestling tournament. Honestly, I can still hear with the screaming I experienced this weekend rattling around in my ear. Not only that, but the smell of sweat lingered in the air of the gymnasium. However, the positive outlook is that the smell meant that every athlete was working hard within their match.
The beginning of the meet went by fast, as the matches were split onto two mats. The first wrestler from Seward was freshman Levi DeBoard, 15, at the weight of 132 lbs. It was also the first loss of the day. Next was senior Simon Estes, 17, wrestling at 145 lbs in the 152 lb weight class. Simon is one of the top wrestlers on the team and achieved the first win for Seward. Unfortunately, Estes sat on the sidelines for most of the season due to a hip injury, similar to an injury that removed him from the cross country season earlier in the year. “[It was tough, but] it was just kind of an eye-opener…[not] to take every opportunity for granted, and get the most out of everything you can,” said Estes when I asked him about the impacts of his injury, and what he learned from them. Simultaneously on the other mat, sophomore Chad Quinn, 15, wrestled an Anchorage Christian School (ACS) student. In the following matches of the quarter finals round, freshman Clay Peterson, 15, junior Cyrus Petty, 16, senior Cole Norcross,17, sophomore Jaden Vandyke, 16, junior James Helsberg,17, freshman Hana Cooney, 15, and junior Rebekah Christensen, 16, competed.
The semi finals started with senior Cole Norcross, 17, who started semis off right for Seward with a win against Holy Rosary. Following Norcross’ lead was Vandyke, Estes, Christensen, Peterson, Helsberg. As the tournament continued, so did the excitement, the tension, and the injuries. During Estes’ second match, he “threw a head and arm”, a singular move used to pin the opponent, causing the ACS wrestler to have a seizure. Along with the seizure, a girl from one of the attending schools broke her collarbone during a match. The day was gruesome and long, finally coming to a close at 10 p.m.
Starting at 7:15 the next morning (December 9), wrestlers started to file into the dark high school, preparing themselves for the morning weigh-ins. Mind you, the weigh-ins began at eight, making the 45 minutes feel like hours. Soon after weigh-ins, the wrestlers began to warm-up, by running around the mats and diving onto them like there was something special waiting on the ground for them. The meet officially started at 11, finishing off the last rounds of the semi finals.
“The [atmosphere] was emotional. Tension was in the air, because around 90% won’t be able to competitively wrestle for high school again,” says Norcross, commenting on what the final day felt like. The hours went by ever-so-slowly as the matches finished one by one. Overall, Seward had a relatively good meet, concluding with four state-qualifying wrestlers: Cole Norcross, Clay Peterson, Rebekah Christensen, and Naomi Ifflander, who qualified by default when her only regional opponent failed to make weight.
After the competition ended, awards for various categories were given, including: Coach of the Year to Houston, and the Sportsmanship Award to Seward High School’s Cyrus Petty. Coach Andrew Scrivo summed up this year’s wrestling season by stating his pride in the team. “I think the best thing about the team is the way they come out and fight. No matter how the match is going, they never give up.”