TROJAN WRESTLING: Young Worthington wrestlers hard at workWORTHINGTON — With a lineup dominated by youth, the Worthington High School wrestling team is taking its lumps this season. But the young Trojans are enjoying the on-the-job training they are receiving at the varsity level because they know the future of Worthington wrestling looks very bright.
WORTHINGTON — With a lineup dominated by youth, the Worthington High School wrestling team is taking its lumps this season.
But the young Trojans are enjoying the on-the-job training they are receiving at the varsity level because they know the future of Worthington wrestling looks very bright.
“Starting at a young age, we have progressed a lot farther (than if we had came up to the varsity level as freshmen),” sophomore Carson Hagen said. “I wrestled some my seventh- and eighth-grade years. (That experience) has helped me develop a lot faster.”
Hagen is 14-3 primarily at 195 pounds this season. He is among two other sophomores (Joe Pavelko at 220 and Peter Abraham at 285) who start on a regular basis for the Trojans.
The bulk of the Worthington lineup includes freshmen Hser Eh Pwae (106), Hser Moo Pwae (113), Jeffrey Camacho (126), Cody Michelson (132), King Saenz (145) and Cole Bartels (170). Even eighth-grader Vince Riley holds down a spot at 145.
There have been times the young Trojans have been matched — maybe overmatched — against opponents three to four years older than them.
“When you’re going up against an older wrestler, it can be scary,” Hagen said. “Once you get out there and the match gets going, the nerves go away. But you can tell they are more mature than you are and you have to be a smart wrestler. You can’t let yourself get into situations where they can throw you around because they can be quite a bit stronger.”
Hagen said he learned a lot from taking on older competition.
“I’m starting to use the techniques my opponents used against me when I get on the mat now,” Hagen said. “I can start throwing around the smaller kids. It taught me to be aggressive, how to use strength to my advantage and has built up my confidence.”
That’s exactly what Worthington head coach Mark Prunty is looking for.
Despite having no seniors in the lineup or the wrestling room, the Trojans are led by Hagen and juniors Anthony Luft (120), Joey Mills (152), Zach Kempema (160) and Blake Schroeder (182).
“Considering how young our team is, I’ve had to become more of a leader, more so than other juniors,” Schroeder said. “We don’t have any seniors here to guide us along. I used to come to practice and have the older kids tell me how to do stuff and show me how to do stuff. Once you start helping everybody else, it’s not just about you. It’s about the team as a whole.”
Schroeder, who has 16 wins this season, said the team leaders are there to show the younger wrestlers how to execute mat moves or answer any questions they have about strategy and wrestling situations.
Luft, a two-time state qualifier, is currently ranked No. 4 at 120 pounds in Class 2A. He is also lending tips and wrestling knowledge to his younger teammates.
Schroeder was impressed with the work-ethic of the freshmen Trojans.
“The Pwae twins (Hser Eh and Hser Moo) are two of the hardest workers in the wrestling room,” Schroeder said. “All of us are here to get better. We are all working hard. The only way we can get better is through hard work.”
With time on their side, the Trojans keep compiling experience for the future.