Newcomers give wrestling a wide array of weapons this season

Jordan Overmyer

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“When you come back tomorrow bring your running shoes, wrestling shoes and three shirts,” instructed Lochlan Mchale, Redwood’s new wrestling coach. “We sweat a lot.”

McHale is replacing Alan Morris, who had been the coach since 2007. This will be McHale’s third year of coaching, following two years as the assistant coach for Marin Catholic’s team.

“[Redwood is] a two-year MCAL champion team so there’s lots to build off of, which really excites me,” McHale said.

Practicing with a wrestler, McHale is taking over for Allan Morris as head coach.

He hopes to bring his own style of wrestling to the team, while continuing to build on the previous success of the program.

“Redwood historically has been a very defensive yet successful team, so my goal is to take more of a southern-central California style of wrestling, which is more aggressive,” McHale said.

According to junior Spencer Dow, who is returning for his third year on the team, the Giants’ old coach was more focused on defensive moves.

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Senior Chris Keating steps towards junior Spencer Dow; McHale has been teaching the boys to take more shots during matches.

“We didn’t learn as many shots. The focus wasn’t on pushing the pace but rather getting on top,” Dow said.

The team has the potential to flourish this year, filling 13 out of the 14 possible weight classes. In addition, some of the wrestlers have been practicing during the offseason, making the transition into the high school season much smoother.

“I think that this is the most [weight classes] that Redwood has ever had,” McHale said. “With 13 out of the 14 weight classes, we actually might be able to bring home some team trophies at tournaments.”

Both McHale and Dow have high hopes for the team this year.

“As a whole we look really good. Our middle weights are very strong and we have a good core of returning guys. The new guys look really good and look like they have potential,” Dow said.

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Demonstrating a move to the team, McHale hopes to teach a more aggressive style.

For NCS, McHale believes there are three or four wrestlers that could qualify to compete in the state championships.

During practice, the team runs or participates in a cardio-based activity in order to build endurance so the wrestlers are able to wrestle without getting tired, which can mentally “break” their opponent.

“We are going for a strong cardio base along with a strong knowledge, almost like a library of different moves. They can pick and choose what works for them based on their style,” McHale said. “With wrestling you have all these different body types so each body type adjusts to different moves.”

Sophomore Naomi Gomez, the only female wrestler on the team, believes McHale is nice, but fairly strict and structured. However, she sees these as positive qualities for a coach to have.

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Grabbing freshman Marco Costa by the leg, sophomore Naomi Gomez listens to instructions from McHale.

“He stands very tall. I think he is going to lead well because he has a booming voice and he seems like he has a lot of trust in the other wrestlers, which is a huge component,” Gomez said.

Dow knows McHale through wrestling at BRAWLERS, a local wrestling club he works out at during the offseason.

“He pushes the team to become better. We’ve gotten much better offensively and that’s really going to step up our performance as a whole,” Dow said. “Our old coach was a more defensive coach so we didn’t learn as many shots. [McHale uses] a really aggressive style and he likes to be in our face and pushing the pace.”

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Practicing with Costa, Gomez, the only female on the team, transferred from Drake this year.

McHale wrestled from middle school to college, before deciding that he no longer wanted to compete. When he wrestled he traveled with his team often, which is something he hopes to do with the Redwood team. This year, he will be bringing nine boys to a two-day tournament in San Diego, called the La Costa Canyon Classic Hamada.

McHale hopes that the tournament will show the boys the level and style of wrestling they will need to compete against later in the season.

To build a tight-knit team, McHale hasn’t appointed a team captain yet, mixing up the activities and leaders every day and using the more experienced kids to help mentor their younger, less experienced teammates. He does plan to appoint a team captain in the near future.

Gomez, who transferred from Drake this year, is another new addition to the team. She wrestled for her middle school team and in a wrestling club with a private trainer.

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Senior Murun Batjargal faces off with senior Matt Dupuy during practice.

“I saw my friends doing it and I was like, ‘Woah, hey, that seems really fun.’ When I saw them in there I always saw them laughing and having fun with each other and they looked like they were part of a team, something I’ve always wanted,” Gomez said.

Gomez doesn’t find it intimidating to be competing against mostly male teams because she grew up alongside her 15 siblings, eight of which are brothers.

“I have eight brothers so I’m kind of used to it. Honestly, I see them as other people or teammates,” Gomez said.

During Dow’s freshman year, there was a girl competing on the team, so the co-ed mix isn’t new to him.

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Showing the team a move, McHale hopes to bring current two year MCAL championship streak to a third victory.

“She brings energy to the team that I think is needed. I think it will be interesting to to see where she fits in the team and what weight class she gets put in,” Dow said.

McHale coaches several girls during club season and is familiar with ways to integrate her into the team. He already sees her fitting in with a group of wrestlers around her weight group that she will work well with.

“Redwood has had a very strong history in California women’s wrestling. We’ve had some of the most successful women come through this school and hopefully she can add to that,” McHale said.