Grappling Atoms looking for a back to back

The AHS Grappling Atoms enter the 2015-2016 season with a lot of change around the team. Former coach Keith Sholders, resigned after the 2014-2015 season. Also, the departure of talented wrestlers such as Tony Gibbs, Devin Hamlett and Wesley Miller has deeply impacted the team. These losses left a huge gap in the wrestling staff and team, and left the question of who would fill it. Coach Derek Sweet and Assistant Coach John Jennison have joined the staff this year with hopes of leading the team to success as they have in past seasons. “I plan to work hard each and every day with Coach Sweet,” Jennison said. “[We aim to] come up with a solid plan to get our athletes in the best wrestling shape possible for competition.” Coach Jennison previously coached in a few different positions.

He spent the last two years coaching golf at W.T. Woodson High School and was able to help out with their wrestling program last year. Outside of school, Jennison is a private coach for indoor rowing to help our Police and Fire Department compete in the World Police and Fire Games and has been doing that for the last four years. He has previous experience with wrestling dating back to his middle school years up until college. A more thoroughly experienced staff can motivate the wrestlers to become great like their leaders. Wrestlers like Alex Joya have wrestled for most of their lives. Joya wrestled for the Mat Rats prior to his high school wrestling career, only building his experience and potential for greatness. Last season he placed third in the states, falling to the state champions Joshua Neil from Colonial Forge. This season he plans to go even further than his previous season. “My goals this season are to of course win every match and win states,” Joya said.

“I plan to achieve this goal by pushing the limits and putting many hours into the gym. Also by making my technique and footwork a lot better.” There are a lot of big factors in wrestling, such as making adjustments in your technique to defeat your opponent. Sometimes, the key to success is preparation prior to the match.

“There are many things we do as a team to prepare for matches, such as hard work, carbing up and hydrating, and making weight,” Joya said. “The individual part of this sport is being out on that mat. There’s only you to help yourself and you can’t blame anyone else for your mistakes.” A large part of what wrestling is known for is their sometimes controversial technique of cutting weight. Regardless of how people feel about it, it is essential to achieving victory while participating in the sport itself.

“Last year, I started off the season at 132 lbs. and then cut down to 126 for districts, regionals and states,” Joya said. “Right at this moment, I’m weighing 140 lbs. and plan to start off at 138 lbs. Towards the end of the season I plan to cut to 132 lbs. depending on how I perform at 138 lbs.” With a new staff, this opens the opportunity for already strong wrestlers to learn new techniques and build on their skill. Their next competition is next Tuesday, Nov. 24. The Grappling Atoms will face Lake Braddock, South County, Thomas Jefferson, Marshall, and Mclean in a scrimmage at home.