Preparation for Pack the Pit begins

Hamaad Lodhi greeting his opponent at last years pack the pit

Hamaad Lodhi greeting his opponent at last years pack the pit


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Pack the Pit is a special night for wrestlers it is the night for the athletes to showcase their talent in front of the whole school. The atmosphere in the room feels like a boxing ring.
This is a special night for the seniors especially because they   The Annandale Atoms Wrestling team is fairly far into the season and is close to the annual Pack the Pit event. The team had an okay start, struggling with obstacles that are common when acquiring a new staff. Last year
The Atoms  wrestling team went 21 and five, went first in districts and placed as a team in the state. Coach Derek Sweet had a big spot to fill following the absence of Keith Sholders.
“There were some growing pains this season,” Sweet said. “The coaching staff had to get to know each other and the team had to get to know each other as well as mold what they knew into what we know.”
They also struggled due to multiple injuries to the likes of seniors Sergio Pozo and Azamat Israilov. All are very talented players and essential to prevailing as victorious. The team stands with a current record of 12-10. They look to improve through the last two dual meets taking place prior to the end of the season.
“We are doing well, but not as well as I believe we are capable of,” Sweet said. “We’ve had a number of injuries and faced some big teams, but I believe we are rounding a corner as a team overall.”
To every rough start, there is victory, but only through hard work and dedication. Wrestling is a team sport, but also an individual sport at times. It benefits the team a lot when wrestlers win their matches.
“We’ve got a group of core seniors and sophomore Allen Kokilinanda,” Sweet said. “Everyone’s battling and wrestling tough so we are pretty pleased with the way things will be shaping up soon.”
A motivated mentality with extreme focus is hard to beat, and that’s why the Atoms have been working for that.
“The team is looking great,” senior Alex Joya said. “The guys are really buying into the moves Coach Sweet is teaching us.”
“I personally adapted really well to the coaching change and couldn’t be happier,” senior Hammad Lodhi said. “I believe this coaching staff is capable enough to push the Grappling Atoms to their best ability and keep the program strong. However, the coaching staff has a much different approach than other coaches in the past. It’s much more independent work in terms of you must do your part to fill in your part for the team; and I don’t find this bad at all. Others however may beg to differ–but that’s expected when there’s a new coaching staff.”
Pack the Pit taking place on Wednesday, Jan. 27 is a whole different environment for wrestlers, and can change the game completely. Pack the Pit, the senior night for seniors, is very different from the other senior nights. They are placed under a giant spotlight and surrounded by arguably one of the biggest crowds Annandale hosts all year. Wrestlers are introduced with their unique nicknames. For example, last year Sergio Martinez was nicknamed “El Jefe Gigante”. Before the seniors walk out with their parents and are introduced, they go through a light practice. This year Annandale High School faces West Potomac at Pack the Pit. There are 14 weight classes in wrestling starting at 106 pounds and ending at 285 pounds, each weight class will be having a match at Pack the Pit .
“I am feeling really confident going into Pack The Pit,” senior Alex Joya said. “I’m planning to show Annandale all about what wrestling really is.”
A big factor in Pack the Pit has always been the home field advantage, just like in any sport.
“The Atoms have never lost Pack the Pit in the four years I have gone here,” Joya said.
After Pack the Pit comes conferences and the team has to prepare for that as well. Joya placed third in the state competition for the 2014-2015 season, falling only to Joshua Neil, the first place winner.
“A state championship is what I’ve been sacrificing so much for in and off season,” Joya said. “I expect nothing less from myself.”
Joya has been working hard to achieve his goal and so has the whole team. Come see that hard work pay off at Pack the Pit.