Wrestling team works out before first meet
By Frances Taylor - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Fri., Dec. 16, 2011
Coach Steve Kanopka has coached the East Hartford High School wrestling team for 26 years, and his enthusiasm for the sport remains the same. He has very clear standards that he follows when getting the team ready for its season. “In wrestling, there are no ifs, ands or buts,” Kanopka said. “Whoever wins the match is the starter.”
The team was recently preparing for its first meet of the season against Platt Vocational High School in Meriden. Before practice, each team member is handed a cup and heads to the bathroom. A urine test will show if an athlete is properly hydrated. “It’s a test for dehydration,’’ which Kanopka explained is a mandatory test for wrestlers in this state. “There was a problem several years ago with college-level wrestlers who are trying to make a certain weight class dying after a meet because of dehydration,’’ he said. “We want them to drink at least three 8-ounce glasses a day, and we always stop for a water break during practice.’’ Most of the athletes pass. The few that don’t are sent to the sidelines until they do.
The athletes also undergo a skin fold test conducted by athletic trainer Keith Delaire. Wrestlers may not have less than 7 percent body fat. “We want to be sure they are not losing too much weight too fast when they are trying to make a certain weight class,’’ Kanopka said. Weight classes range from 106 pounds to 285 pounds. “There is a spot for everyone,’’ the coach said. “Anybody who wants to work hard can be on the team.”
And that includes girls. There are currently two girls on the EHS wrestling team, and they wrestle boys during meets. Aura Talero, who currently acts as manager for the team, has wrestled in the past and hopes to join the team in the future. “I like wrestling because I am a very aggressive person, and it’s a safe way to defend yourself,” she said. “It’s challenging for a girl – you have to be really determined.”
Edwin Sepulveda, a senior and captain, has been on the team for the past three years. “I think this team is ready to give 100 percent,’’ Sepulveda said. “The only guys we lost are the ones that graduated, and the new guys have a lot of talent.’’ Sepulveda said he likes wrestling because it is both a team sport and an individual sport. “When you get out there, it’s just you and the other guy,” he said.
Jamane Ward, a senior who is in his third season with the team, said the players were focused going into the new year of competition. “Wrestling is the hardest sport I have ever done,” Ward said. “It takes a certain mindset, and it pushes me to give all I have.”