Tensions were high and the stakes were even higher in Slicer country at IHSAA’s 81st Annual Wrestling Sectionals on Saturday morning. Young men from Porter and La Porte County filled the gym hoping to have what it takes to earn their spot at the state championship.
You could feel the athletes’ passion and spirit when you entered the gym. For coaches like Jason Brown, the Assistant Coach for the La Porte High School Men’s Wrestling Team, this is what his team has been looking forward to since day one.
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“This is the highlight of our season,” said Brown. “It’s what kids have worked for all season; to have the opportunity to go out and compete and see how they can advance through the tournament.”
Despite the below zero temperatures most of the week, it was clear the teams from 8 different schools did not let the weather slow them down.
The Valparaiso Vikings grabbed a spotlight with several athletes advancing to regionals. Stefan Vitello took first place (106 pounds), Jak Krause took first place (126 pounds), Jack Thursby took fourth place (138 pounds), Brycen Nylin took second place (145 pounds), Aiden Pollitt took third place (152 pounds), Colin Kwiatkowski took first place (170 pounds), and J.B. Cioe took second place (200 pounds).
Derrick Suttles, a Valparaiso High School Wrestling Coach, explained how even with harsh weather conditions, his team remains determined to go all the way this season. “It was a tough week because we missed two days of practice due to the weather, but all of our guys stayed tough and kept in shape,” Suttles explained.
“The guys put in anywhere from 20 to 30 hours a week, depending on their training schedule,” Brown added. “They go through rigorous training in preparation for today, such as strength training, conditioning, and technical skill development.”
Wrestling is one of the most demanding high school sports. It requires hard work, dedication, and an immense amount of strength training and conditioning. This explains why the United States Olympic Committee ranked wrestling as the 5th most difficult activity out of all 60 sports in 2012.
As Coach Brown emphasized how both of La Porte’s teams were mentally and physically ready for today, he revealed how accelerating through today’s tournament is something everyone wants to do, but many will not.
“I think every kid’s goal is to get down to the state meet,” Brown said. “Not everyone will do it, but they’re all here to get that shot.”
For more information regarding the upcoming IHSAA Wrestling State Tournament, visit ihsaa.org.