Wrestling looking strong


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With the wrestling season underway, the Atoms seem to be heading in the right direction. Under new Coach Derek Sweet, the team seems to be progressing at a steady pace. “He’s a good coach, but he has a lot to live up to coach shoulders, because he built a legacy here,” senior Azamat Israilov said. “He’s trying and doing good, as well as showing us new moves to beat our opponents.” The key for the grappling Atoms seems to be technique and speed, which forces their opponents to lose. “The guys are listening and grasping the concepts, as well as practicing them repetitively,” Sweet said. Varsity wrestlers from last season have been preparing in the offseason and improved by traveling to New Jersey for the War at the Shore tournament. They also stayed at Penn State University for four days for a team camp where they worked on skill and technique .

“Our technical ability has gotten better since last year,” Israilov said.

“We need a little work on conditioning and strength, but other than that we’re looking great.”

Annandale is also being noticed because of the intense team efforts. Coming off a district championship last season, the Atoms feel like they are the team to beat. Senior Hammaad Lodhi was confident in saying yes when asked if Annandale can be back to back champs. Apart from the team effort, the wrestlers have also improved individually. The grappling atoms have been practicing day to day to improve their skills for future matches. Certain wrestlers can tell that they have gotten in better shape and have improved on different aspects of their game. “We’ve definitely gotten bigger, my technical ability is the same, but my strength got a little better,” Israilov said. Having lost seniors from last season, the Atoms still feel like they have depth in certain weight classes.

“We have an advantage over other schools because of the size of our team,” Sweet said. “Last year we lost three of our best wrestlers: Wesley, Tony and Devin,” Israilov said. “But out of the 14 starters, we have 12 of our seniors. So I think we can do better than districts, and maybe even make it to top three in the regional tournament.” The Atoms have been learning new techniques to defeat their opponents with coach Sweet bringing his wrestling background from Washington and Lee to help the Atoms prevail. “I think he is a solid coach. He knows when to help other athletes if they’re not doing it right and at the same time he pushes us mentally and physically during practice,” senior Jessie Salinas said.

“We mostly go over technical stuff and practice to get down the new moves we’re using against other teams,” Lodhi said.

The team seems to have some weaknesses that can easily be fixed. “Some weaknesses right now are that we have to get stronger mentally. However, our strength is our will to win,” Sweet said. “Even with our holes, this year’s going to be pretty strong. Almost the whole lineup is filled with seniors, so I’m not scared. I think we’re going to do just fine.” The next match for the grappling Atoms is Friday, Dec. 11.