By Spencer Patrell and Kady Volmering
Last year, as a freshmen on varsity wrestling, Mateo Diaz was six seconds away from losing an important match. Instead, he escaped, pinned the other wrestler, and won the match. It was a turning point in his season, during which he eventually became the only member of the team to qualify for states.
After six years of wrestling, Diaz recalls this moment as one of his favorite memories in the sport. Last year, he wrestled for the varsity team and earned second place at the Regional competition, qualifying him for the State meet. This year, he hopes that, along with the rest of the team, he will qualify for States. He is confident that this year’s team will do well in the upcoming season.
“We have more guys and the guys that came back improved,” Diaz said.
The amount of wrestlers has nearly doubled, jumping from under 20 boys last year to almost 30 on the current roster. This leap in numbers will allow the team to have a full lineup, meaning that points lost in past years, due to voids – lack of wrestlers in a certain weight classes – are now available to the team. Head wrestling coach Michael Donovan said that concentrating on what wrestlers can control instead of what they can’t control, such as personal effort and skill, will also help lead the team to overall success. Another important thing he wants his players to remember is to not compare personal performance to others but only to themselves.
The team’s primary goal is to win the District title for the second year in a row.
“I’m expecting this year’s team to take a little bit of a step forward from last year,” Donovan said.
Donovan believes the team will win more dual meets and have more kids qualify for States now that they have more wrestlers. He also aims to be one the top three teams at the Saginaw Valley League meet by the end of the season. More experienced seniors and juniors will help contribute to the team’s success.
“Our main goal, above wins and losses, is to better ourselves everyday,” Donovan said. “We’re trying to make that next step forward to be an overall team to compete with.”
Senior David Waier shares this goal, and strives to improve his overall skills in wrestling.
“You can see yourself improving, either from where you were previous years or even from week to week,” Waier said. “When you string together a lot of good practices that are tough, because practices are physically and mentally tiring, you really feel accomplished.”
Waier has been wrestling for Midland High since his freshman year, where he would go on to have ten of his matches be at the varsity level.
“I didn’t do very well, but I learned from that,” Waier said.
Waier thinks that this year’s team will benefit greatly from the increased number of players, but not only because points will no longer be lost for voids. With the larger pool of wrestlers on the team, Waier believes that the new members on the JV team will be able to watch the varsity players and learn from them.
“Having more numbers helps because you can develop the younger guys with the experience of the older guys and you can have the younger guys work with the older guys,” Waier said.
He said this variation on the team will help acquaint the new members of the team to the faster, more skilled wrestling that is practiced at the high school level.
With the focus on building skills and techniques through tough practices and the heightened number of athletes on the team, the team is very confident going in their upcoming season.
“It is going to be a tough districts, but as a team, at team meets and at individual meets, we will do very well,” Waier said.