Wrestling looks to improve from tough meet

The Grappling Atoms are off to a decent start after the NOVA Classic


Luke Elkins, Staff Writer

The Grappling Atoms faced a tough test at the NOVA Classic, hosted at Fairfax High School. The NOVA Classic is a 32 school tournament featuring teams from Northern Virginia and surrounding areas.

The Atoms struggled on Friday, they only had Junior Alan Kokilinanda place in the top five.

The tournament has over 400 wrestlers participate, which is divided into 32 man brackets in each weight class.

The event stretched over 2 days, with the best wrestlers progressing in the tournament.

Admittedly, they had a high standard to meet but the Atoms wrestling team did not do as well in the tournament as the squads from the past two years. This was mostly due to a less experienced team.

“We are a little younger and inexperienced this year, but last year’s team had 10 senior starters and filling those holes is proving to be a challenge so far,”  said varsity wrestling coach Derek Sweet.

The Grappling Atoms have won the past two conference championships, going back-to-back, and a chance at a three-peat is hanging in the balance. Coach Sweet is confident the team can improve and try and win their third championship in a row.

“We just need mat experience and mat time. Our aggression on the mat and our willingness to get better and observe what is going on around us is a positive on this team and when we put kids on our backs we are able to finish,” Coach Sweet said.

He drew upon the positives of the meet saying, “We gained a lot of experience we are very young. Guys got to see what quality wrestling looks like and we had a couple guys do well.”

Junior Allen Kokilananda and freshman Patrick Lee were star performers for the Atoms. Both of them survived the first day and progressed into the second day of matches.

Kokilananda fought his way to a fifth place finish in the NOVA classic while Lee surpassed expectations by making it to the second day.

“Kokilinanda has been there before, placing in that tournament is a great accomplishment and it will fuel his fire. Lee reached the second day which most 9th graders don’t get to do it’s something most don’t get to do,” Coach Sweet said.

“I feel like it was good for being my first time, but i feel like i could’ve done a lot better. [As a team,] we did alright knowing we had a couple new guys, but we also could’ve done better,” Lee said.

Kokilananda agreed with him saying, “Since we are a young team, I feel we did well, but there’s still a lot to work on.” He also felt that he could’ve done a lot better.

If the grappling atoms are to meet the high bar set by the wrestling squad of the past years, they will need many underclassmen to step up.

“With hard work I believe that we can do what they did,” said Kokilananda.

“If we work as hard as them we then we can [do it],” said Lee.

“It takes a lot of effort and hard work and determination to become champions,” said Coach Sweet. A sentiment echoed by all of them is the importance of effort, hard work, and determination. If they want to be champions, they will need plenty of effort, hard work, and determination.

Coach Sweet and his grappling atoms have plenty of meets left to improve, with over a month’s worth of meets left. It will be interesting to see how they push themselves to the finish line.

Their next meet will be on Saturday Dec. 17, will be a Duals meet at Washington Lee.