Getting back in wrestling shape a challenge for Tigers

Jon Whitman, second from left, twists his way out of Ethan Minnick’s hold during the first day of wrestling practice at Grand Junction High School on Wednesday.

After roughly seven months of “summer,” class was back in session Wednesday in the wrestling room at Grand Junction High School.

Professor Bud Glover, who is in his second year as head coach and 21st year on the Tigers’ coaching staff, has to mold his young team into shape by its first tournament Dec. 6.

“We’re just gonna ease through it the first couple weeks and then pick it up,” Glover said about his first practices. “We don’t cut, so I don’t want to kill them off right away thinking this is too tough. But, realize six minutes is a long time when you’re sucking air.”

As of 10 minutes before its first practice, only eight Grand Junction wrestlers had submitted the paperwork necessary to take part in practices, which meant there were more wrestlers watching the practice than taking part in it.

Glover knows this is valuable time his wrestlers are losing.

“Even though a lot of them play football, it’s a whole different shape to come into,” Glover said. “(We’re trying to) get to where we can compete and make a six-minute match without dying and then progressively get bigger from there.”

That crucial first week of practice is where wrestlers rediscover their love for sweat, tears and agony after a long offseason. It’s where wrestlers realize why they were working out so hard in the middle of the summer or when they realize why they should have been working out harder.

“It’s probably the toughest to get used to cutting (weight) and not eating, and sweating so much,” senior Jon Whitman said about the first week of practice. “But it’s worth it.”

Glover plans on rotating his captains each week to try to motivate his wrestlers during practices.

“Who’s busting their rear out here in practice and showing leadership and producing on the weekends,”
Glover said about how the rotation will move. “Could be freshmen, could be seniors. Hopefully, it’ll be seniors.”

Experience is the casualty of graduating seven wrestlers who qualified for state last year. Glover said he does have 20 wrestlers on the team with some varsity experience, however, most of that experience is only a few matches.

Therefore, he’ll be counting on his older wrestlers more than last year to push the younger guys and keep them motivated.

“I tell them they just gotta keep working hard no matter who they’re wrestling against,” Whitman said.

“We’re gonna need them, so they have to work as hard as they can and get as good as they can.”

Senior and returning state qualifier Anthony Guillen also has some advice for his younger teammates.

“Just don’t let it get to your head too much,” Guillen said. “There’s always gonna be big meets, but you just can’t let it get to your head or anything like that and let it affect your wrestling.”

The wrestlers are already looking forward to the league meets.

When asked which meet he was looking forward to the most, Guillen didn’t hesitate — Fruita Monument.

Any Wildcat in particular he’s looking forward to wrestling?

“Nope,” he said. “I just want to wrestle them.”


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