The sport of wrestling, which preceded the popular televised gimmick “WWE,” is an ancient combat sport. During the original Olympic pentathlon event, wrestling bouts gathered huge crowds. Despite a history spanning thousands of years, wrestling began to fall into obscurity with the advent of other popular sports such as soccer, baseball, basketball, and football. Professional wrestlers today fail to attain the level of stardom that athletes like Cristiano Ronaldo, LeBron James or Tom Brady reach during their careers. As both an interscholastic and amateur sport, wrestling today does not have nearly the same attention the sport garnered long ago.
The GDS wrestling team has experienced this same deflection of attention, with very few student attendees at matches and an apparent underappreciation of the wrestlers’ athletic talent and skill.
Many students may have noticed at one time or another the slotted plaque filled with names of past and present GDS students on the wall in the wrestling room during their P.E. classes. Each one of those names belongs to a Mid-Atlantic Conference (MAC) champion representing the GDS wrestling team.
Junior Saul Atwood says wrestling may not get as much attention as other winter sports not only because fewer students participate, but because it is a “really hard sport.” He said it feels like non-wrestlers find his favorite sport “weird” and, therefore, devote more of their attention to other sports.
“We’ve had some people quit because it was too hard for them,” Atwood said.
However, GDS certainly has its fair share of successful wrestlers. Senior Ransom Miller won the MAC championship for his weight class last year. Atwood and junior Duncan Edwards also had top finishes at the MAC championships. Coach Grayson Shepperd ’11 won a championship when he attended GDS and brings a winning attitude to the team.
In terms of the physical and mental components of the sport, Edwards says wrestling inspires perseverance.
“I have to get through a school day, and then I have to go through wrestling practice,” Edwards said. “If you get a big loss, then you have to keep your head up and be optimistic.”
Yet this year’s team might not be doing much losing. Several of last year’s top MAC finishers are a year older and stronger. Edwards believes that GDS, once again, has some contenders for MAC championships and the freshmen are great additions to the team.
“They’re great listeners and they’re strong and athletic,” Edwards said. “They know what they’re doing and they’re really passionate about wrestling.”
Another unique characteristic of the GDS wrestling program is that it is co-ed. The idea of co-ed wrestling has been a hot topic of debate, but GDS wrestlers have embraced women’s participation and success in the wrestling program in past years, as female GDS wrestlers have helped to win multiple MAC championships.
Edwards says sophomore E.J. Joseph embodies the GDS wrestling program. She has participated at multiple wrestling camps and practices and often competes against her male counterparts.
By Micah Hurewitz ’20