Tom Tom Tries: Wrestling

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Diana Anghel

When I was in middle school, one of the wrestling coaches once told me that he didn’t think I could keep up with a wrestling practice because he believed my sport at the time, dance, could never physically or mentally prepare me for the experience. I’ve never been one to turn down challenges; with his permission, I showed up to a wrestling practice the following week. I finished the workout at the same pace as the rest of the wrestlers, mostly out of stubbornness and the desire to prove him wrong.

Ever since then, I’ve seen wrestling practice as a challenge, something that my abilities were once doubted in. That is the reason why, as someone whose sports range far away from wrestling, I volunteered to do this version of Tom Tom Tries.

Unexpectedly, the warm-ups started with a bunch of tumbling: cartwheels, round-offs and front handsprings. I thought that these were fun and was mostly able to keep up with the rest of the wrestlers. The warm-ups also involved a lot of running, something that the wrestlers warned me of; however, I did not mind the running due to being a track and cross country runner. But things got complicated when the actual wrestling part of practice started.

Coach Borrero would show a move a few times, after which the athletes were expected to pair up and perform the previously shown move. I panicked when the group broke into pairs and followed the counts of the coaches while performing the move step by step; I couldn’t even remember th

e first part of what I was supposed to do. As I kept watching those around me, I got a better understanding of the movements. The body positions and forms held way more detail than I expected. Every body part, down to each finger, had a specific placement. Along with this, the positions athletes are expected to hold were physically painful; they worked muscles in my body that I don’t typically use during practices.

As Mckenna and I got more serious and determined to do the moves right, I noticed it was very easy for me to forget all about the wrestling moves and just try to get her down in other ways. Considering that she is someone I’m familiar with, I can’t imagine how I would react if I had to wrestle a stranger. I’m not claustrophobic, neither am I an aggressive person; however, I think I would panic and become both those things if I actually had to wrestle in a real match. On that note, my respect for wrestlers grew immensely due to the fact that they are capable of wrestling by the rules during each match.

Pro tip: Do not wrestle with earrings in.

After we finished wrestling, a sequence of seven lifts were expected to be done on the weight deck with a limited amount of time. Most of them were upper body lifts such as bench, wrist curls and dips. I proudly finished doing three dips. Soon after, I watched one of the varsity boys get on the bar and do 12. I didn’t feel so accomplished anymore. The rest of the lifts went as well as they could for someone who could only lift half the weights of everyone else around her.

Overall, I’m happy I learned as much as I did about wrestling. My respect goes out to every wrestler for being mentally strong enough to deal with weight cutting, exhausting practices and competitive meets every season.


McKenna Kalisz

I had always been surrounded with wrestling growing up; when I first started sixth grade I was determined to wrestle. I was never interested in what people called “girl sports,” I’ve always wanted to wrestle. For me, wrestling never worked out. My parents just didn’t want their little girl stepping onto the mats with all the boys.

Slowly my dream to wrestle faded away. I took the opportunity to wrestle my friends every time I could. So, when I was writing a story in Tom Tom one day, and Diana asked me if I wanted to do Tom Tom Tries with her, I jumped at the opportunity to do so.

The moment practice started, I slowly started to question why I offered to do it. We started off with tumbling that was way beyond my capabilities and I started off practice discouraged, as the only thing I seemed to be capable of doing was failing during the warmups and falling into the mats. Slowly, the only sound that filled the wrestling room was the whole team’s feet hitting the floors as we did a warm up run. The running part of practice gave me comfort because it was one of the only things I was good at. Every time Coach Borrero thought the team was not giving their full effort, he would blow his whistle; our feet instantly started running laps.

When we weren’t running, we were learning skills. In the beginning, Diana and I began to analyze what everyone was doing and slowly started to put the parts together. After we got a basic understanding of what we were doing, we hit the mats. With much assistance from the coaches and managers, we began to attempt takedowns and carries.

We started off rocky, but we slowly improved after we were given tips of where to place our arms; this was so Diana and I wouldn’t break each other’s bones. We began to slowly get the hang of what was going on. With each set ending in Diana slamming me down in a successful takedown, I felt ready to try to take her down. Spoiler alert: I’m not that good at taking people down and would much rather be the one getting slammed into the mat.

After learning multiple takedowns and carries, the team began to live wrestle. Slowly, I backed off the mats as I thought we would just sit this one out. My desire to take on an actual match faded, but then Borrero said it was our turn. With sweat dripping from my palms I looked to Diana and came to the conclusion that we might as well give it a try. We stepped back on to the mats and got into position. Slowly, all the nervousness in my head disappeared and it felt just like one of those days I was learning from my best friend. There really wasn’t a winner from our match, but I did somewhat successfully do a takedown without hurting myself.

After a little bit longer of live wrestling, the team went up to the weight deck and began lift. After feeling somewhat successful from all the practices and a little bit of live wrestling, I felt like lifting wouldn’t be a big deal. Oh boy, was I wrong… Lifting with the wrestlers was totally different from lifting with the girls in my physical best class. They all were immensely stronger and were able to finish all of the lifts with ease. I finished the lifts and was ready to head home. Practice finished with Coach reflecting on what we accomplished and lastly giving a handshake to all the coaches and thanking them for helping us during practice.

Overall, I was glad that I was asked to try wrestling as it satisfied the younger girl inside me. I was able to walk out of practice with sore muscles and the uttermost respect for all the wrestlers on the team as they take on every single aspect of wrestling no matter how challenging.