The Atoms have closed the season in a successful manner, even if it hasn’t happened the way they’ve hoped.
The Atoms finished second in the districts but were able to pass on four wrestlers into the regional tournament.
Seniors Patrick Lee (182 lbs), Ryan Fowler (152 lbs.), Dylan Weaver (170 lbs.), Michee Nseka (285 lbs.), and Junior Glory Nseka (220 lbs.) all represented AHS in this year’s regional tournament. Weaver and Lee both took the regional championship for their weight classes.
Every wrestler finished within the top ten and were anxiously waiting for the state tournament.
“The mentality was to literally take it one match at a time and not look ahead,” said Coach Joshua Damico. “The goal was to get our five districts champions to the State Tournament, and we did that by having them focus on one match at a time.”
As the state tournament finished up on Feb. 22, the Atoms were preparing at high intensity with a simple mindset.
“For the state tournament, we’re telling the wrestlers to win the next point or win the next position,” said Damico. “We’re trying to get the wrestlers to place as high as possible and by focusing on the next point and next position they will do just that.”
The strategy worked really well, and Weaver took second place in the state tournament. Michee Nseka also took fourth place in the tournament.
Michee won his first match but lost the next one which set him back to fourth place.
Weaver won his two matches to get into the state championship and lost a close match in the championship round.
At one point, Weaver had a 7-1 point advantage in his first match and won by pin in his second match.
Even the wrestlers who didn’t place did a good job during the tournament. Lee came back from being behind by five points in his match, but still wasn’t enough to place.
The training for the tournament was at the same level as it had been all season.
As for the physical training, they kept it the same as they had all season with simulated matches. It’s worked so far and they’re keeping the same method. With weight issues not being a problem, they’ve been able to practice strictly on wrestling.
“Drilling, situations and live wrestling. None of the wrestlers have weight issues we need to focus on, which is great because they were able to focus on doing what they needed to do to go 1-0 for regionals,” said Damico. “They could focus on the goals of winning the next point and next position for the state tournament.”
Even though the team had worked hard and been successful, there are still challenges they have to face. The primary focus was to build confidence and be more mentally prepared. It paid off in districts and they wanted to carry it into states.
“For regionals the toughest opponent I felt for some of our wrestlers were themselves; some wrestlers had a bad regional tournament last year and we wanted to make sure that didn’t happen again,” said Damico. “At some point, they had to tell themselves that they were the better wrestler and go out and show it. For the state tournament, they were all difficult opponents; if anyone got taken lightly, that’s when upsets happen.”
The season for the Atoms has been very successful and it’s paid off in everyone’s eyes. They’ve had their share of setbacks, but were able to keep moving and keep a winning attitude.
“I feel the team performed well; we finished 11-9 as a team and were wrestling well all year. We were hit with a bit of injuries, illnesses, and quitters throughout the year that prevented us from reaching our full potential,” said Damico. “But the starting 13 who wrestled at districts, wrestled their best when it mattered and it helped us have a successful season.”