Mustangs wrestling overcomes obstacles, looks for strong finish

01/06/2014 3:34 PM

01/06/2014 3:36 PM

The Grapevine varsity wrestlers are looking to repeat last year’s winning season. With returning 2013 152-lbs. state qualifier Gabe Cabrera and 2013 182 lbs. state runner-up Blake Andrews, the Mustangs have the experience to be contenders again.

“We came in ninth in state last year,” said head coach Kent Hall. “Our goal is to get back to state and come in higher than we have before.”

A worthy goal, despite some unusual setbacks this year.

“It’s kind of a weird year,” Hall said. “UIL shortened the season by a week and we missed a tournament due to the ice storm. That has made the season go by really fast.”

The typical post-break issues also face the team, with some additional concerns.

“With wrestling, you have a whole other dimension added to the training,” Hall said. “In addition to working out and staying in shape you have to really watch what you eat to stay at your correct weight.”

Not an easy task over the holidays.

“You can get out of shape a lot faster than you can get in shape,” Hall said. “It is always a worry going into a break that you are going to have that much more work to do after.”

With a shorter season, Hall is facing only three more weeks of district competition, although it is critical training time.

“It’s time to start gearing up,” he said. “But really, the regular season is just a tune-up for district, regionals and state.”

Hall expects the best out of each of his wrestlers, including seven returning seniors, for themselves and the team.

“Wrestling isn’t like other sports, like football or baseball. No matter what kind of team you have, one kid can go on and become the state champ,” he said. “Last season we had three guys qualify and two guys came in first and second in state. That helped us make it to ninth place.”

The Mustangs came in fourth out of the 24 teams competing in last weekend’s Grapevine Dual Meet. Coach Hall was pleased with his team’s performance, particularly since Grapevine hosted the duals.

“Last year we didn’t even place and this is one of the highest finishes Grapevine has ever had,” he said. “You want to do well. It’s a big tournament and it has a good reputation. You want to keep that reputation intact so that people want to keep coming back.”

The Mustangs battled back from pool losses against district rival Coppell to regain some ground in Saturday’s matches.

“The kids wrestled really well. We wound up winning three of the matches we lost in pool play against Coppell,” Hall said. “They were doing some of the moves we worked on and I was proud of them.”

Andrews was undefeated in nine matches, helping the team achieve its fourth-place standing.

With the Grapevine Dual behind them, Hall is focusing on fine-tuning his team for the competition ahead.

“We need to work on getting down to our correct weights for the last few weeks,” he said. “And we need to work on our mental toughness. We’ve got the tools and now we just need to get more focused.”

The Mustangs face Euless Trinity this week before hosting Southlake at Senior Night on Jan. 15 in their final home dual of the year.

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