Strike Hard, Strike Fast, No Mercy

Wrestling is a very difficult sport that not many people are able to master.

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Matthew Soberano

Luke Menzies shoots a double leg takedown to bring his opponent to the mat.

Sweat, blood and pain. These are all things that a wrestler must go through in order to achieve victory. These are all challenges that an athlete must face to become something great; they will hurt, they will bleed and they will cry, but a wrestler is taught to ignore these feelings. They are told that pain is just an illusion. When they get thrown to the ground and get a bloody nose, they get back up and keep going; no amount of pain will stop them from victory. Luke Menzies is a junior on the wrestling team who deals with such challenges.

At the young age of 10 years old, Menzies joined the wrestling team because his father said he would sign him up for football as well. Menzies always had a huge passion for football and always wanted to play it, so when his father brought him the news he was so happy with the fact that he could finally accomplish his dream. He then realized something; he was never meant to play football. Menzies was born to be a wrestler and he quickly became very skilled in the sport. As a freshman, he was already on the varsity team.

“I absolutely love wrestling, I love the competition in it and I love the aggression it takes to become great,” Menzies said. “There’s no better feeling than winning a match and having the ref raise your hand to victory.”

With Menzies years of experience in the sport, he is able to quickly adapt to his opponents and learn their strategies to counter them and take them to the mat. He is quick on his feet and quick on the mind and he shows no mercy to his opponents when he’s competing. He doesn’t let anything get in the way of victory and when he’s on the mat, everything blurs out to black except for the opponent who is trying to take away his pride. Menzies has gone through highs and lows in his career, but nothing has stopped his passion for taking the win. No injury, no mental thought and no obstacle has ever gotten in his way.

“I hurt my ankle back in sophomore year and I felt like I had let myself down,” Menzies said. “I couldn’t wrestle anymore and my team needed me. I thought to myself that things could only get better and they did and I eventually made a full recovery to start wrestling again.”

One of the most controversial challenges wrestlers like Menzies need to face are weigh-ins. Every match a wrestler must make a specific weight class and if they don’t, they are immediately disqualified or put into the higher weight class if there is a spot available to be filled. One technique that wrestlers use is starving themselves. This results in rapid weight loss in order to make a weight class by not eating for days.

“It’s really hard to starve because you can’t eat anything and you still have to go to school and practice on an empty stomach then you’re exhausted for days at a time,” Menzies said. “At tournaments it’s the worst because then you’re cranky the whole time and you’re not in the right mental state to wrestle.”

Many wrestlers believe that an athlete must be in the right state of mind in order to be successful and it is argued to be the most important aspect of wrestling. Nothing takes more focus than reading your opponent’s mind mid-match. Watching their every move, every muscle, every twitch and every step, one loss of focus even for a fraction of a second can be a mistake that results in the loss of a match.

Menzies has earned the respect of the whole team as well as his coaches and knows he’s earned his place even through all the pain and struggles. It may have been tough, but he has never given up on the team or himself as he always gives the sport his best shot.

Menzies still has two more seasons to go in his high school career and plans on giving the competition all he’s got, even if it means going through even more pain and challenges that lay ahead.