Senior captains of Manchester High School wrestling team lead by example

By Corey AmEnde - Staff Writer
Manchester - posted Fri., Jan. 10, 2014
The team has a total of 22 wresters, which include four senior captains.  Photos by Corey AmEnde.
The team has a total of 22 wresters, which include four senior captains. Photos by Corey AmEnde.

As the schedule begins to turn to league matches for the Manchester High School boys’ varsity wrestling team, the squad is focusing on building team cohesion and making a run at the division title. This year’s squad features a core group of returning wrestlers, but also a lot of new athletes. 

“We’re either heavily experienced or very inexperienced; there’s kind of no middle ground this year, which is fine,” said head coach Lou LaGuardia. “We have a good freshman group and a few sophomores that are learning and doing well.”

The team is led by four senior captains, which is a bit of a rarity for the team. “We usually don’t have four captains, but we did this year because they were highly committed and just really good kids that all deserved it,” said LaGuardia. The captains are seniors Alex Perez (145), Felix Gonzalez (152), Humza Ali (195) and Noel Cardona (220).

According to LaGuardia, junior Chris Carter (138) is another key wrestler for the team this season.  Carter recently won the Skip Arden tournament for his weight class that was held on Saturday, Dec. 21, at MHS.

Ali said out of the 14 weight classes, “we have a solid group of six or seven returning athletes, and the other weight classes are first year wrestlers, so they’re doing their best,” said Ali.

Cardona said it is his goal as a captain to build a positive team atmosphere that will help support the younger, inexperienced wrestlers.  “This is new to them, so basically my goal is trying to get them better,” said Cardona, "trying to have them feel comfortable where they are and get better every time.”

LaGuardia said in order for this team of 22 wrestlers to have a successful season, they need to continue to work hard and study film.  “We try to cover as much of the basics as we can, and as we get into the matches we see what we need to work on and we try to break it down and bring it into the practice room,” said LaGuardia. “Then it’s just a combination of drilling intensely, strength training and hard conditioning that we do.”

Gonzalez said that the four captains will assist the younger wrestlers in practice with learning new moves and how to properly execute them. “We walk around and make sure they’re perfecting their technique and in a match they can do it efficiently without any hesitations.”

Perez said he tries to push the team during practices to make them “more combative.”

The team practices every day of the week except for Sunday and each practice lasts about two and half hours, according to Cardona.  The practices include a mix of mat work, weight lifting and constant sprints to build endurance.

Gonzalez said his goal for the team this year is for each wrestler to put in maximum effort every match. “I feel like as a team we just want to push through each match efficiently and as hard as we can and let them know that just because we don’t have the talent or the numbers like last year, we’re still a hard team to face and we’re not that easy to go down,” he said.

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