By Nicholas Pavlov ‘16
“Champions are made in the offseason” is a phrase that has been drilled into the minds of Hornet wrestlers. Everyone on the mat is willing to make sacrifices to become the best wrestler he can be.
The Hornets follow a regimented schedule in the offseason, and they don’t end their day without breaking a sweat. Their offseason training is set up by the coaches and managers and follows a certain guideline.
Dr. George Hero, head coach of the wrestling team, has implemented a guideline that attempts to achieve the team’s offseason goals; these include battling muscle imbalances to decrease the possibility of injury, getting the body ready for intensive training, implementing a strength and conditioning program, and improving technique on the mat.
“The offseason is when athletes push themselves to their limits,” said Dr. Hero. “Practice and hard work makes perfect.”
Battling injuries and medical conditions are one of Hero’s main components in his guideline. Injuries plagued the team last season and caused many problems.
In December, the team was supposed to send nine wrestlers to the Mayor’s Cup, the biggest tournament of the season. However, due to injuries, the team only sent five wrestlers to compete. If every athlete had competed, the team would have had a better chance at winning the team award, which is given to the team with the best competition results. It also would have given the coaches a better idea of what to work on with the team.
In order to combat these injuries, the team has put emphasis on weight training. A great deal of the wrestlers lift weights with the football team five days a week and only practice twice a week. This allows the team to focus on increasing strength and mobility in muscles that don’t get used on the mat or during condition training.
“The team has been working hard in the gym,” said Amirbek Ahtamov ‘16. “We are getting stronger every single day and I hope it’s worth it.”
The wrestlers get to rest after their weight training programs when there is no practice. This is an important element in the guideline because it ultimately improves performance. According to the article “Health Benefits of Rest” on Floridahospital.com, rest reduces stress, helps people maintain a healthy weight, and improves heart health. These aspects can help athletic performance, which is the team’s main goal.
Likewise, focusing on conditioning and technique will help this team thrive next season. When the team practices, they push themselves to their limits. They jog until their shirts are soaked with sweat, work on a technique until it’s perfected, do push ups and sit ups until they cannot do anymore, and run the stairs until the feeling in their legs are gone.
Before getting on the mat, the Hornets do conditioning drills. The team focuses on improving endurance and stamina during these type of drills, and they emphasize it intensively. The team runs multiple laps in the annex bridge before practice and sometime run the stairs from the basement all the way up to the fourth floor.
“We see conditioning as a little warm-up,” said team Captain David Nemirovsky `15. “We do it because we do not want to lose stamina during a match in the regular season.”
Technique training consists of continuous drilling of moves and maneuvers. After every drill, the wrestlers wrestle with their partners for two minutes and try to complete the move that they were working on.
Once drilling has been completed, the captains create groups consisting of three or four wrestlers in the same weight class. Every wrestler in the group wrestles and alternates partners after every two minutes. This practice helps the wrestler improve endurance and master technique.
“I have never seen so much sweat in my life,” commented wrestler Jacob Kogan `18.
Kogan has never seen so much determination and commitment. He believes the team will do great things next season and he is happy to be a part everybody’s journey to success.
Despite individual goals, the team is one big family. The captains emphasize the aspect of unity and wholeness every single practice and they see it as a way to motivate the athletes.
“Unity will help this team succeed next season,” said team Captain Makar Tchekalenkov ’15. “We have a bright fu-ture.”