With the winter sports season comes the EG wrestling team. This year’s team has a full lineup at the varsity level and about 50 players in all. This is head-coach Daniel Vargas’ second time coaching the team.
“I expect us to win more dual-meets this year,” Vargas said. “We’ve already won three dual meets and last year we only won three all year.”
Coming up from the JV level, junior Dionte Tillman currently has a record of 5-0.
Each practice, which lasts for around two hours, generally begins with warm-up stretches and some body control simulations. Then the coaches spend time teaching and working on moves, leaving enough time for live wrestling matches at the end of practice. Twice a week the team will go down to the workout room for strength conditioning.
“We’ve got a lot of young kids in the lineup,” Vargas said. “That’ll translate in years to come because of their experience. We’ll still have them for a year or two, which is nice.”
One of this year’s new players, freshman Eric Iliterlien has found the experience so far challenging, yet rewarding overall, comparing it to his fall sport.
“They say it’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do, and it’s true. The wrestling conditioning is tough, tougher than football. There’s a lot of mind over body,” Iliterlien said.
For years, wrestling has been a predominantly male-oriented sport. That hasn’t really changed seeing as only six of 50 players on the team are female. There was an upsurgence in female wrestlers with this year’s freshman class.
Reflecting on being one of the only girls, freshman Iliana Rose-Landa-Martinez said, “It’s pretty good because they treat you like everyone else. You’re not treated differently because you’re a girl.”
With the season not ending until early February, Vargas and the coaching staff still have a lot of ground to cover with the players and are hopeful about their record this season.
“My job is just to help the team be successful,” Vargas said. “The kids give back and help the program grow. I listen and change to their needs.”