How does one compete in the most intimate of sports while still being cautious about COVID? Baylor wrestling coaches have managed to limit the spread of the virus while maximizing the efforts of training and workouts.
“The wrestling room is split up into 20' x 20' boxes. Only two wrestlers are allowed in each box,” Coach Kendle, head coach of the wrestling team, explains. “They must keep the same wrestling partner for multiple weeks of practice. This allows for easy contact tracing and stops the mass spread of the virus.”
Apparently, this method has allowed the team to practice safely. At the time this was written, there had been only two positive cases since September and no “wrestler-to-wrestler” transmission.
While the precautions are necessary for the health of the wrestlers, they undoubtedly hinder the dynamic of the team and its performance. Unable to practice with partners of different skill levels becomes the greatest roadblock. As Coach Kendle paraphrases, “a wrestler needs three partners: One he can beat, one that he can’t beat, and one who is his equal. This dynamic allows for the greatest growth in our sport.”
Well-trained wrestlers like Nick Corday 22’ have also expressed their frustrations as the diminished crowds and socially distanced seating impacted the team dynamics.
Nevertheless, the self-motivating wrestlers have been working hard and aiming at the third consecutive state championship. “We all take a great deal of pride in representing Baylor Wrestling,” says Coach Kendle as he reflects on the spirit of the entire team. “It is not hard to look around at the walls in our room and know that we are at a special place.”
While the teammates remain physically apart, their brotherhood has only grown stronger. Corday and the other five boarding wrestlers are still “around each other most of the time, and whenever we [they] are with the rest of the team, it just feels at home. There’s no animosity between any of us [the wrestlers].”
In a time of uncertainties, long time supporters such as Shaack Van Deusen, former head coach, volunteer their time to the program. Their dedication profoundly inspires the team to keep taking the mat on national caliber tournaments.
While only competing and winning one dual this year, both the coaches and wrestlers have shown immense confidence and determination to take home another championship banner in the upcoming state tournament.