It’s almost time for winter sports: basketball, swimming, and you guessed it - wrestling! The Ville News recently spoke with HHS wrestling coach Ralph Gabriel, who begins team practices today (Nov. 4) at 3:15 p.m. in the fieldhouse. His edited remarks are below.
Q: How can someone join the wrestling team?
A: We don’t have tryouts. I don’t cut kids, so the first day of practice is today. If you want to be on the wrestling team, just show up. You have to have your physical and all that. But as long as you show up for practices, you’ll be on the team.
Q: Are there any requirements/skills needed to be on the team?
A: Well, no. If you want to become a good wrestler, I can make you that. But obviously if you’re athletic it helps, but I’ll take anybody that wants to try. As long as you’re willing to work, I’ll make you better. We compete in weight classes, so you’re going to go by a certain weight class. It would be nice to be a little leaner than a little chunky. If you’re lean, you have a better shot at being successful.
Q: What are practices like?
A: We practice every day except Sunday. During the week it’s 3:15 to 5, and Saturdays we usually go from 9 to 11. We do a lot of drilling. We do some running, we do wrestling, we do techniques, we do some weight training.
Q: How many people do you expect to be on the team this year?
A: I think we’ll probably have in the 30s.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish with this year’s team?
A: Well, I was brought here to rebuild the program, so my goal is to continue to make the number of wrestlers larger. We went from 6 to 25 in the last two years. We also want them to become good wrestlers. We had one state qualifier the first year and last year we had six. My goal is to get all 14 kids to state at some point. I want a state champion or a state place winner. I want to win the district, the region, and eventually the state. It’s a process. It’s not going to happen this year, but we’re going to be competitive and we’re going to keep getting better.
Q: Do you feel that wrestling gets the facilities it should? What do you think should change?
A: Wrestling requires a big mat; mats are hard to move by yourself. It would be nice to have a place where we could practice year-round like everybody else does, and it’s hard to do that with the current setup. We’re making it work but it’d be better to have our own place, our own room.
Story by Rain Adams and Bridget Bireley