Head Coach Mike Jernigan has high expectations for his wrestling team this year. Before the first match of the season, the team has to prepare. Jernigan said the best way to prepare is to log long hours in the weight room and on the mats.
“By the time we get here in the mornings it’s dark, when we leave after school it’s dark,” Jernigan said. “It’s hard work, we have alumni guys that come back to practice and wrestle with the guys and talk about that mental mind piece, they talk about what it took for them to become a state medalist or a state champ and now they want to come back and spread that onto the team.”
Sophomore Jacob Vincentini feels a good way to start preparing for the season will be filling leadership positions.
“There’s definitely going to be big slots to fill, now that people like Darlondo [Hill] are gone,” Vincentini said. “He was a great leader, but younger guys are stepping up now to fill those spots. I think we’ll still be pretty good without Darlondo and Josh [Jansa]. The intensity they brought to the room was something different, something you don’t see every day.”
Both of the team’s state champions from last season graduated in the spring. But Jernigan said he thinks that the team could have several state medalists this year as well.
“I think with the team we have, and with the way districts are aligned, we have a pretty tough district this year,” Jernigan said. “I would see the four returning state qualifiers from last year qualifying again this year. Out of those four guys that hopefully will go back to state this year, I think two of them could medal pretty easily.”
Vincentini said he is excited for the opportunities that the younger wrestlers will have this season.
“We have a young team that has a lot of talent, for how young we are, we’ll be able to do some really special things,” Vincentini said. “I think Westside wrestling is going to get really good.”
At the beginning of every season, all sports team face challenges. Vincentini said the main challenge that the wrestling team will be facing is their age.
“We have one senior on the team and that’s it,” Vincentini said. “The varsity team will be made up of mostly sophomores and juniors, which is really young. Most of us who were freshman last year were used to seeing [Jansa and Hill] every day. So, we have to try and be like them this year.”
The varsity wrestling team will have their first match Friday, December 1st at Blair High School. Junior-Varsity will have their first match on Saturday, December 2nd at York High School. The freshman team wrestles their first match at Norfolk High School on Saturday, December 2nd. Good luck Warriors!