There comes a time in every school year where no student is safe from a brief stop in the hallways. As fall steadily turns to winter, every potential prospect is bombarded with the essential question from the lips of coach Mark Sommerville, “So, are you gonna do wrestling this year?” Although this method of recruitment is often considered irritating to outsiders, Coach Sommerville, along with Mr. Stevens and Mr. Whyte, has been able to construct an outstanding wrestling program and culture in the school during his tenure.
Throughout the years, the Pace wrestling squad has had a reputation for achievement. The wrestling team has experienced great success and steady improvement throughout all of last season, with three wrestlers qualifying for state and junior Jack Walsh placing fifth in his weight class. However, what was sufficient in the past is simply not acceptable in the upcoming season. “I’m very excited about this team, even though we do have a relatively small one,” said Coach Sommerville. “I expect much improvement in the upcoming season from all the experienced and new wrestlers.”
The team is led by Jack and senior Dustin Hadley, who will be looking for help from a predominately underclassman supporting cast. The wrestling team consists of around 12 people, and the squad hopes to fill anywhere from 8-10 separate weight classes. Practices, which often range from one and a half to two hours, are both physically and mentally grueling. Coaches Whyte and Stevens are not simply bystanders, as they often interact with the students and teach them an assortment of different tactics and techniques.
Because of the small number of wrestlers, the athletes must work hard in order to maintain a strict weight. The Pace squad does not experience the same freedom as other high school teams, as one pound can make or break a tournament. Although physically tasking, the Pace wrestlers realize success does not come at a cheap price.
On Nov. 15, the rag-tag wrestling squad of freshmen and sophomores journeyed to Archer High School. Despite being a highly inexperienced team, the Pace wrestlers dominated the competition, winning 12 out of 18 matches overall. Freshmen Chip Ratcliff and Frank Houser both exceeded all expectations by garnering a perfect 3-0 record in their first high school wrestling experience.
The first meet definitely gave the underclassmen confidence and a thirst to aspire for greater achievements. “I want to do well and placing at state is definitely the ultimate goal,” said freshman powerhouse Frank, who wrestles all year round. “Practices are tough, but the end result is worth it.” If the first meet is any indication, the wrestling squad should perform well, especially when the team is at full strength. Although the wrestling team is often overlooked, this upcoming season should prove to be unforgettable.