BVH is sole Californian team at Arizona wrestling tournament


Kara Barragan

Junior Ricardo Castillo buds heads with an opponent from Mater Dei during one of the many matches on Dec. 12th. The match ended with the Barons taking the win with a score of 66-10.

Rachel Elliott and Adam Benchekroun

On Dec. 20 and 21, Bonita Vista High’s (BVH) varsity wrestling team will compete as the only Californian team at the Mountain View Marana Duals wrestling tournament in Tucson, Arizona. The other competing schools are primarily from Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, making the BVH wrestling team an outlier. 

“It’s a two day tournament. The first day will be our team competing against all these other teams to see who has the best high school team at that particular tournament.  The following day will be the individual tournament where the top three wrestlers from all the weight classes will [have a] face-off [to see] who’s the best individual in those weight classes,” head coach Joe Marcotte said.

Given the circumstances, BVH wrestling will have eyes on them throughout the tournament, seeing as they will be standing out as Californians. Being the only team from California means that proper preparation is necessary in order to ensure a satisfactory performance.

“Today, [Dec. 11, 2019], we did a round robin session of live wrestling where we had groups of four and they all took turns wrestling each other as if it was a live match. We kept a super high intensity and real high pace,” Marcotte said. “Coming out of practice right now, sweating off four or five pounds, it’s just another wrestling session. We’re getting ready.” 

After the intensive training and working out to strengthen their muscles, wrestlers’ work and preparation for the match is not done. One of the main ways BVH wrestlers and all wrestlers alike prepare for tournaments like these is by sticking to a carefully planned diet. Wrestlers must qualify for their weight class before each tournament. More often than not, this means scaling back some pounds. 

“I stay really lean with what I eat,” varsity wrestler and sophomore Nathan Merghart said. “A lot of it is diet based; we’re not intaking as much calories as we burn so we can drop weight.  I’ll wear a few extra sweatshirts during practice so I can sweat off more water weight.”

Losing weight is one of the most difficult and demanding aspects of wrestling, according to Merghart. Historically, wrestlers were expected to lose large amounts of weight over a short period of time, a practice called “weight cutting.” Nathan Merghart’s mother, Kristen Merghart, explains that while she is excited to go to Arizona with the team to support, the journey the team took to prepare was beyond difficult.

“[The team does] heavy practices [after school]; they practice for two and a half hours. The coach walks them through each match and tells them what to do. All while doing this work out, they’re preparing to lose weight. A lot boys will put on extra sweats and run a couple miles and just avoid water [to reduce the chances of gaining any more wait]. It’s hard because you’re literally starving and working out to make weight,” K. Merghart said.

Despite the difficulty of weight cutting and the endless training for the tournaments, Marcotte expresses his excitement for the tournament and his goals for the team.

“I kind of have a motto in the room. It’s ‘never stop wrestling’ and that’s really all I care about. The wins and loses aren’t as important as their growth mentally and their ability to give their best [performance] on the matt,” Marcotte said.