How does a school create a culture?
How does a school’s culture affect a team?
How does a team adapt to a school’s culture?
Elk Grove High School’s wrestling program is answering all of those questions over the course of the last several years.
The team conformed to the desired wrestling culture of the school, and in 2019, it has become more successful because of it.
“This team really bought into the program philosophy,” head coach Dan Vargas said. “They bought into the mindset and the techniques that we want associated with Elk Grove wrestling.”
Indeed they did. For the first time in many years, the team has a winning dual-meet record (12-7). The program has bred five wrestlers with at least 22 wins: sophomores Tuvshin Zuunbayan (29 wins), Joey Gaskill (26 wins), and seniors Matt McEnroe (26 wins), Griffin McEnroe (22 wins) and DeVaughn Tillman (22 wins).
The sophomore Zuunbayan says the way Vargas leads the team is a big reason for his excitement to wrestle.
“Coach Vargas is really fun to be around, which makes me want to spend time with my team,” Zuunbayan said.
But a coach can only be given so much credit. When it comes down to it, a team with strong leaders is a team that is going to perform well. That’s why the captains — the McEnroe brothers and Gaskill — of this team are among some of the strongest.
“My captains push me to my limits. They help me improve and make me want to succeed,” Zuunbayan said.
The wrestling team is stronger than ever, and growing stronger still.
“This is my fifth year [being head coach], and we have seen a complete turn around in how focused the wrestlers are, how much they trust their coaches, and also how we compete with other teams” Vargas said. “Buying in and giving full effort will only lead to success and our squad this year has proven that,” he added about the season as a whole.
Sectionals for wrestling will be held this Friday and Saturday at James B. Conant High School. The five Grenadiers who qualified include Griffin McEnroe, Matt McEnroe, Joe Szplit, Gaskill and Brady Tosterud, who is only a freshman.