For the first time in EHHS history, the wrestling team had the most successful season in program history, while also breaking two records. Due to all their hard work put into the preseason, they were able to accomplish these goals. Before the beginning of the season, the team had their preseason meeting. At this meeting they go over weekly meal plans, daily exercises, and days they will be having group workouts. From this point on, the motivation and success only grew stronger. The team started off the season by defeating Daniel Hand of Madison with a score of 41-24. From there on, the team kept rising up and showing off their talents against others. While last year they did not have much success, they changed some things from the start for the team as a whole. Victor Garcia, a senior wrestler, expressed, “The underclassmen followed us as examples. Unlike previous years, the seniors didn’t show us the best examples and leadership. I felt this year we did; the kids looked up to us and they were led by example. We wanted everyone on the team to be great.” The seniors as a whole wanted their last season to end with something special to remember; they felt as though it was their job to lead the entire team to success.
With hours upon hours put into practice on and off the mat, the team was able to do more than just accomplish wins. For the first time in EHHS wrestling history, the 2018-2019 team was able to set records for the school and in the Class M tournament. This season, the team broke a school record for most wins in a season. The previous amount of wins was 19 in 2002, and this year they beat that record by getting 20 wins with the final meet of the season defeating Guilford, 40-31. Not only did they set a record for the regular season, but also for the Class M postseason tournament. That record was the amount of points scored in a meet, as they beat the previous EHHS record of 112.5 with a score of 121 points, which put them in 8th place overall.
With these records being set, this means that the wrestling team had to have changed some sort of strategy that they’ve used the previous years. Coach Mark Tolla mentioned that they brought in an outside coach, Nick Kilstein, who is a law student at Yale. Tolla described him as a very invested person, as he gives all of his time to the team and truly cares about working with them to make them better. The wrestlers had also mentioned that if they had a tough match that week he would come in and work one on one with them during practice. Although it was tiring, they all said they benefited from the help they had received from him and appreciate everything he has done for the team with hopes to see him next season. However, it was not only the training and the strategy that helped the team get so far this year, Head coach Mark Tolla and assistant coach Lou Revellini said they had some key players that pushed through their matches as tough as they could to assist the team. Senior captain Armando Castañeda was the only heavyweight wrestler this year. In one match, he had held onto the opponents shoe lace to keep him down and win his match. Fellow wrestlers like Danny Jarrin and Gunner Horton had many key wins in overtime, which helped the team to many victories. They also had other standout wrestlers such as senior Joshua Rao and Victor Garcia who always put in their all. According to Coach Tolla, the starters were not the only ones who made the difference in the team. “We had a bunch of injuries, but that’s what wrestling is, it’s a tough sport guys get injured all the time. We had injuries we couldn’t plan for. However we had a couple of guys like Albert Doheny and Nick Harrold who were in and out of the lineup but were really valuable because they filled our slots,” said Tolla. As it is said, a team cannot be made up by a handful of people, but by a group who works together.
As the season has come to the end, the seniors will be saying their farewells to the team and moving onto the next chapter in their life. A couple of them plan to pursue their wrestling careers going forward. Armando is planning to come back to the team next season as an assistant coach. Victor Garcia hopes to compete at the collegiate level. Albert Doheny plans on doing clinics and WWE training. They will all remember this special season they shared with a great group of people. They will cherish all the wins they accomplished together, to the endless amounts of hours, tears, laughs and cheers. We wish the best of luck to the seniors moving forward, and as for next season we hope to see a Class M states banner hanging in the gymnasium. The team would be nothing if it wasn’t for their constant motivation and hard work.