Wrestling Getting Back on the Mat

Early work by this year’s wrestling team has the coaching staff enthused about the season.

“I’m more excited about the whole team as a group than I have been for several years,” said head coach Cooper Puls.

Part of Puls’s excitement, he said, comes from the breadth of experience levels in this year’s roster. In addition to a core group of veteran wrestlers, this year’s group of 28 includes both returning wrestlers and several Bearcats who are relatively new to the sport.

In each case, Puls said he is seeing athletes who are “tough and gritty and excited to do a good job.”

Another source of optimism for the team is the rapidly growing cohort of female wrestlers, which currently numbers seven this season. In the previous season of competitive wrestling, Simone Straus ’21 earned All-American honors by placing fourth at the first-ever girls bracket at Prep Nationals.

Most other wrestling programs have experienced a similar break from competition over the last two seasons, putting Hotchkiss on a par with them, said Puls. Getting back to a more normal practice routine should allow them to build back their strength and endurance, he said.

One of the points of emphasis for the coaching staff this year is film work. Using tape of previous matches, wrestlers can work to perfect their technique and reduce their mistakes.

“If kids want to get better, they have to learn from what they’ve done wrong in the past,” said Puls. “If they see it on tape, it’s hard to avoid.”

Early head-to-head match results have been encouraging, with the Bearcats winning two of their first three contests, including a 48-36 win over Avon for the first time in five years.

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