Wrestling to the Top
The Spartans are back with a renewed roster and even more determination to be at the top of their division.
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“Wake up” has been the mantra of Stuyvesant’s wrestling team, the Spartans, ever since their first game of the season. After winning the Manhattan Championship in their flawless 2021 season, the team has suffered from a high influx of new incoming players, a lack of experience within intense competition, and a variety of other issues.
The sudden injection of new players into the league has had positive and negative impacts on the competitive environment in which the wrestlers practice. Compared to prior years where their player counts were shy of the roster maximum, the 2023 season brought over 70 eager combatants to the team, forcing the coaches to cut down to a mere 45 members during their first-ever tryouts. However, the lack of experience, compounded by the loss of last year’s talented senior group, has been catching up to the Spartans. “Since most people haven’t ever done a combat sport, there are a lot of mental and physical hurdles to overcome,” senior and co-captain Hwarin Zoh said. Furthermore, due to the number of members, resources and space for wrestling have become limited. Meanwhile, there has been an increasing number of injuries.
However, new players also meant good news for the next generation of the Spartans. In prior years, heavyweights would lose out on practice time due to other heavyweights being absent, reducing the quality and quantity of practice they got. However, the increase in the roster size fixes these weight class disparities. “Everyone always has a partner and someone to push them during practice,” senior and co-captain Zoe Chin said.
“Coach Parris and Coach Murray are the glue that holds our team together,” senior and co-captain Trystan Woutersz said. And they’re essential to the Spartans. Coach Parris always keeps the team organized by keeping the team accountable with her strict policies, ensuring that the team’s paperwork is good, and taking care of injuries if necessary. Coach Murray is no different: though a volunteer coach, his commitment matches no other. “Coach Murray is always out there showing new moves and techniques to better the skills of our players,” Zoh said. His dedication to improving the team motivates the wrestlers under his leadership to emulate him, further influencing new wrestlers. “[Coach Murray] sets an excellent example for all of us and never fails to deliver motivational speeches to keep us focused. His main priority is our safety and he always shows up,” Chin said.
The Spartans currently stand at 2-2, good for fifth in their division and keeping them fighting for a playoff spot. The Spartans’ season opener against the Harry S. Truman Mustangs became an extremely close match, but they fell just short of an opening win. The meet had started with the unfortunate losses of sophomore wrestler Urim Lee, junior wrestler Emili Lok, and Woutersz. However, Chin, Zoh, and senior wrestler Mahin Mahmud successfully secured victories in their matches. Following a few forfeits but also wins by the Mustangs, the loss from senior wrestler Tejas Siddaramaiah wrapped up the game at 39-36, falling just short of a victory.
“The loss was a good wake-up call to all wrestlers to work harder to reach their goals,” Zoh said. The season opener was certainly a wake-up call, as the Spartans proceeded to defeat the Dewitt Clinton Governors in a 72-6 wipeout. Lok, Woutersz, and Siddaramaiah each won matches in their respective weight classes, while junior wrestlers Lillian Engber and Koyo Keiter; senior wrestlers Farhan Khan, Shahriyar Rohan, and Gabriel Lwin; and sophomore wrestlers Asan Ali and Muhammadjon Obruyev all stepped up and won their matches.
The Spartans would beat Bronx High School of Science in a close 39-31 victory the following week but unfortunately suffered a considerable loss against Lehman Campus 54-24, who only last year beat them by a mere three points. Throughout these games, some notable records include 3-1 from Zoh, 3-0 from Chin, 4-1 from Lok, 3-1 from Mahmud, and many more.
The Spartans’ hopes are not down yet, as their next three games are crucial for a chance at reaching the playoffs. Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy and Martin L. King Jr will be tough as both are currently undefeated in the division. Even Bayard Rustin Educational Complex, which is currently 1-2, is not to be underestimated by the Spartans. Despite the losses and issues the team has faced, it’s clear that they have worked hard since their first game and have much to play for as the season reaches its climax.