Own the Mat

Fort Atkinson High School Wrestling

Angela Unate, Staff Writer

Junior, Pete Branaman, cradling his opponent for back points.

Wrestling, being a high contact sport, provided a challenge due to the current state of COVID-19. However, with dedicated coaches and eager wrestlers, covid procedures were implemented allowing Fort Atkinson High School Wrestling to proceed.

Before the season, Coaches Ryan Gerber and Abe Graziano dedicated their efforts to getting the wrestlers a season, even if that meant adapting to new changes. ¨Covid has caused many challenges for the wrestling team this year, the biggest being a shortened season with no tournaments. This means less time on the mat to prepare for the postseason. Along with that, masks must be worn on and off the mat and other precautions have been put in place to keep everyone safe,¨ explains senior, Eli Koehler. These changes, however, didn´t prevent the wrestlers from a successful season.

The 2020-2021 Fort Atkinson High School Wrestling team started off strong winning their first dual. Numerous wrestlers earned their first varsity win, and as of January 22, 5 wrestlers are undefeated on the season. ¨To be successful in a sport like this it takes the willingness to learn, and grit, you can’t be scared to push yourself and expect to excel.¨ said senior Jacob Horvatin. The mentality that Horvatin expressed was shown countless times throughout the teams multiple duel wins this season. However, right as the team was adjusting to this season, a positive COVID case resulted in a 10 day quarantine for the team.

Although the quarantine posed a setback, Coach Gerber didn´t let it affect the team. Zoom practices were organized to replace regular mat time, which allowed the wrestlers to put in hard work at home. These zoom practices paid off when the team returned to the mat on January 22 and defeated Oregon in a dual shortly after. Eli Koehler describes their motivation and mentality behind success, ¨I motivate myself and teammates by working hard during every practice and match. By working hard we help our partners just as much as ourselves.¨ The hard work shown by the wrestlers has allowed for a great return after quarantine.

Despite the many struggles the Fort Atkinson Wrestling team faced, they were still able to secure a successful season. With plans for a state tournament, Fort is hoping to send multiple wrestlers to end the season strong.