Wrestling seeks to continue reign while establishing the program’s identity

The wrestling team strives to continue their reign as MCAL champs after winning the last three years. After finishing 19th in NCS last year, the best finish for a Redwood wrestling team, they look to break into the top ten this year. According to coach Lochlan McHale, the team has the potential to achieve their goal, but needs to maintain endurance throughout both days of the NCS tournament.

Although before NCS is the MCAL, and according to McHale, there is a lot of potential among the teams. He believes that because Redwood has a winning streak, every team is aiming to upset the streak this season.

“[We have] Drake who is a great young team. Johann’s doing an amazing job building that program over there. Tam is always going to battle, if all the kids stay well. Terra Linda is a dark horse; those coaches do an amazing job with their athletes,” McHale said.

Though this is just McHale’s second year as head coach, he has already made significant changes to the team dynamic compared to past years. Senior Will Jackson, a fourth-year wrestler, appreciates how McHale has shifted focus to the entire team rather than putting all the attention on the team’s top wrestlers.

“His coaching style is making us aggressive and he makes sure everyone is learning. He doesn’t just focus on the great wrestlers. He focuses on the freshmen and the people that are struggling and tries to make everyone the best that they can be. I really like that,” Jackson said.

To McHale, it’s about creating a program that lasts and this message has translated across to his wrestlers. Senior Brandon Trahms, a fourth-year wrestler, understands the type of program McHale is trying to create.

“Lochlan is trying to build a program that just doesn’t have a one good year but several good years to come forth. He constantly says he’s trying to build a program that will continue to thrive. So he works with everyone, no matter the skill set,” Trahms said.

Last year, wrestling had 17 wrestlers, 11 of which returned this year while the other six graduated. Seniors Luigi Andrade and Spencer Dow have returned with their experience as four year wrestlers, along with Jackson and Trahms, to be leaders of the team.

McHale credits the growth in participation to the offseason recruiting that he and other wrestlers did to bring more students this year. When asked about cutting kids, he states that he hopes he never has to do that. To McHale, the answer to the increasing numbers is giving more dedicated space to the wrestlers. The administration has already communicated to him that they are getting ready to help manage the growth.

“We’ve got Jessica [Peisch], the admin, Mollie Elton who works with Jessica, and we’ve got Mr. [Zargar] who wrestled in high school. They’re seeing the numbers grow and it’s turning heads among admin. They’re working on things to give us more space. I’m here an hour and a half early to setup so it doesn’t cut into practice time,” McHale said.

Senior Rocco Allenstein, a newcomer to the sport, entered the wrestling program with a background in contact sports like football and rugby. According to Allenstein, his previous interest in contact sports resulted in him wanting to join wrestling, and this season he decided that it was a opportunistic time to join.

“It was an outlet for me to fill time before rugby. I used to think it was weird because I would wear this tight suit with straps over my shoulders, but it’s more than that,” Allenstein said.

Another addition is senior Hallie Fox, who is the only girl wrestler on the team. Although she’s the only girl in a male-dominated sport, McHale says that she doesn’t want exceptions just because she’s a different gender.

“We had another young lady with us the first few weeks and I asked them if they wanted to drill together. They said no, we don’t care who we wrestle. They didn’t even want to wrestle each other in [the wrestling room] and tournaments. They want to go out there and test themselves, so we treat them equally, as much as we can,” McHale said.

Despite their impressive record and a significant increase in the number of students joining the team, wrestling seemingly has less attention compared to other sports according to Andrade. He believes that it’s due to misunderstandings, preconceived notions, and that people don’t seem to know what the sport is about.

Student body support for the sport isn’t as prevalent as other schools in Marin. McHale believes this is most likely due to the stigma that revolves around the sport and misguided perceptions of it.

“There’s the obvious stigma of two guys rolling around. I’ve dedicated a large portion of my professional career working with the LGBTQ community. So it’s about breaking those social norms of two guys rolling around and people saying this and that. And it’s like no, wrestling has been around as one of the oldest sports in the Olympics,” McHale said.

To Jackson, one of the aspects that kept him in the program was the camaraderie among wrestlers.

“The team spirit is awesome. We’re all a big family and we’re close. It’s fun because you go there and everybody knows everybody,” Jackson said.

The wrestling team has had two tournaments already, with a novice tournament for incoming wrestlers on Nov. 22 and a regular tournament for the entire team on Dec. 2. To McHale, the latest tournament on Dec. 2 shows there’s a lot to work towards.

The first MCAL match is on Jan. 10 at Marin Catholic for a tri-meet against Marin Catholic and Justin Siena.

Photos by Maxim Kawashima

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