Wrestling team’s dedication and success overlooked


Marisol Gomez

Junior Anna Becerra preforms a single leg takedown on her Eastside Memorial opponent. Becerra was victorious.

Wrestling is based on a simple concept: take down your opponent and defend yourself.

Wrestlers face a myriad of challenges when they step on the mat, including sizing up opponents, overcoming intimidation, and knowing the limitations of their body. Most importantly, wrestlers must stay mentally focused so an opponent doesn’t psych them out.

“You look at a stalky, heavy built guy, yeah, that’s going to be a headache, but I bet it’s going to be a rush,” head wrestling coach Roy Tambunga said.

Wrestling takes hard work, especially for those who have qualified for state here at Akins such as junior Anna Bacerra as well as seniors Alex and Austin Boles.

“You have to be willing to go at such a high pace that no one can handle how aggressive you are,” Austin Boles, the teams state placer, said.

For many on the team once they start the sport there’s no going back.

“We love wrestling, and the teams’ getting bigger,” Gabi Reyes said.

Wrestlers say they enjoy the individuality, physical contact, and aggressiveness of the sport. Boles said understanding commitment and what an athlete can overcome is what wrestling’s all about.

Many on the team relate their experience wrestling to the famous words of Olympic gold medalist Dan Gable: “Once you’ve wrestled, everything else in life is easy.”

Despite the hard work wrestlers put in, the sport sometimes struggles to gain recognition.  Last year wrestling was threatened when it was booted out of the Olympic games.

Millions of wrestlers, supporters, and fans around the world came together to fight and save the sport. A similar attack on wrestling occurred in Austin in 2003, when district officials considered cutting financial support.

“Wrestling has had more state qualifiers than any other sport in AISD,” Tambunga said.

For this reason the sport remained in the district and team members believe they deserve more recognition. Reyes said the team works harder than other sports. It shows in their performance.

“We need more recognition. People don’t take wrestling that serious,” Kaleb Garcia said. “The school doesn’t say go check out the wrestling team.”

Tambunga said he feels as though wresters will always be the “red headed stepchild.”

Even the team feels as though sharing the weight room and having only one mat hurts their performance.

“With so many people and very little space it effects our practice and we cant go all out like we want to,” Reyes said.

Top notch wrestling programs often have their own practice facility, and Akins wrestlers said having a room solely devoted to wrestling on campus would help them dramatically.

Despite the crowded mats the team has accomplished a lot in the first four weeks of their season.

“In only two tournaments, we have had over half a dozen varsity wrestlers end up on the podium,” Kirskey said.  “At this rate, we are going to collect an awful lot of hardware.”