Tightening the Competition: Wrestling 2016


Hazel McLain

Two out of three victories. That was all it took for a challenger to win a spot on the varsity wrestling team. The endless summer weight lifting and dieting during the school year didn’t matter. One loss could change everything. 

Mondays were a day dreaded by the varsity wrestlers. It was the day coach Bill Goodson pulled them aside, informing them that they were being challenged, and with this, they could potentially lose their varsity spot.

 All of the wrestlers had the ability to challenge whomever they wanted in hopes they would defeat them and reign within their spot. This was the case with varsity sophomores Dane Erickson and Oliver Broce.

When Broce found out he was being challenged by Erickson, he wasn’t surprised. Erickson had been talking to the coaches about dropping down from the 120 weight class to the 113. Broce was aware that he might be challenged for the first time. 

Broce also knew he might lose his spot to Erickson. When they wrestled every day at practice, Erickson had always beaten Broce. Erickson also expected to win. He wasn’t worried, in the time leading up to his two challenge matches. 

“I pinned him in like 30 seconds both times,” Erickson said. “I knew I was going to beat him, so it wasn’t really stressful.” 

Because Erickson was now the varsity wrestler in the 113 weight class, Broce’s threatened spot was officially taken over by another player, and now he had to make the decision of cutting weight or wrestling up, the same way Erickson had.

“I’m going to stay at the weight,” Broce said. “I’d like to stay at my weight knowing we have a very good wrestler on [varsity].”

While the challenges pitted wrestlers against each other, there wasn’t any resentment between teammates. They still asked how everyone was doing and cheered at tournaments. The wrestlers wanted everyone to succeed, even if it meant they lost a spot on the varsity team. Even though Broce was frustrated with the results of the challenge, he realized that Erickson was the better wrestler. He knew that it would only make the team better in the end, which is what Broce wanted. 

Wrestlers couldn’t get comfortable where they were because there were no permanent positions. No guarantee in a varsity spot for the whole season. There was always the chance that someone could drop down to JV if someone better came along. Nothing mattered except skill. 

“When you wrestle someone for a spot, it doesn’t matter about age,” Broce said. “It just matters about who’s better.”