Walking onto the football field and walking onto the wrestling mat transports athletes into two completely different worlds; in a sport like football, all 11 guys on the field have to do their job in order to score, but as senior Jacob Gerken sees it, wrestling offers something completely different than other sports like football – the inability to put blame on anybody else but yourself.
With that mindset, wrestling often attracts a distinct group of students. This past year, the Bearden wrestling team won its third straight district title and had more than enough members to fill the 14 different weight classes that make up the dual-format match.
Wrestling is a sport that focuses on the individual, where an individual wrestler helps score points on his or her own to contribute to the overall team score.
Bearden has made the wrestling team into one of the stronger athletic programs the school has to offer; however, with the loss of wrestlers from this past season, the continued team success looks to be in jeopardy.
“The standard that we have set is that we should win a district title every year,” Bearden Coach Donnie Floyd said. “Unfortunately, I’m not sure if that is going to happen this year because I only have half a lineup.
“We are going to use what we have and wrestle the best we can and get the best matchups.”
Dual-formatted tournaments consist of fourteen individual matchups which produce points for the overall team score. The highest number of points an overall team can score is 84 points, but with the Bulldogs having six weight classes unfilled so far this season, they start the match at a major disadvantage.
“For every forfeit that you have, the other team automatically gets six points,” sophomore Max Grayson said. “So at the beginning of each match, they start with 36 points.
“This means we basically have to win pretty much every single individual match in order to have a chance to win the whole match.”
Whereas Bearden needs spots to be filled for the overall team format, the Bulldogs look to again send many wrestlers to the individual state tournament.
A region tournament determines which individual wrestlers qualify for the state tournament, where the top four in each weight classification advance onto state.
At a tournament this past weekend, Grayson and fellow sophomore Kyle Burns as well as Gerken made it to the finals. In addition, sophomore Jonny Brewer placed for the first time in a varsity tournament.
With many great individual performers on the Bearden wrestling team, the only aspect the team needs to add is more members to help continue the great success they have built over the years.