Although the season is well over and summer break has begun, the Walker Valley Mustangs wrestling team still has much work to do in preparation for next season.
Mustangs coach Al Morris said he and his staff plan to incorporate training and rest as part of the summer curriculum.
“We’ve been working all spring in the weight room and have had our Stampede Wrestling Club going on. Now that school is out, we are giving the wrestlers a week off until after the Memorial Day holiday. We will be back Tuesday in the wrestling room,” Morris said of the upcoming training schedule. The wrestling Mustangs also plan to continue practice and competition on campus during the summer months.
“We have a schedule where we will utilize not all of those dates, but we will be on the mats a couple of times a week.”
Not all of their time will be spent in the weight room during the offseason. The Mustangs have a trip to wrestling camp at UTC on the books for the latter part of June.
“We are going to the UTC team camp toward the end of June,” said Morris. “It’s a four-day camp on campus that will give the guys a chance to do some bonding. It’s a very good camp and they will have the opportunity to learn a lot. They guys seem to enjoy that. Right now, we are looking to send between 10 and 15 wrestlers.”
The rest of the time will be spent in the weight room until dead period time and return to the iron during the month of July.
Walker Valley has also been involved in some tournament action over the course of the spring leading up to the summer break. Although participation wasn’t like Morris would have like to have seen, the Mustangs that took advantage of the extra training received valuable training according to Morris.
“Over the spring some of our guys participated in free-style and greco tournaments. We didn’t have the participation we probably would like to have seen, but we had good turnouts for our club practices. Considering that, we were pleased. We are now pretty much finished with our competitions other than those we will be doing at UTC,” said Morris.
Wrestling isn’t all the Mustangs will be involved with over the summer, however. Morris said the team will help with the upcoming golf tournament at Chatata Valley Golf Club. A shotgun start at 2 p.m. will follow the noon lunch. The $50 entry fee will cover the green fee and cart for the 2-person, select shot tournament. Proceeds will go to help with expenses for the Mustangs wrestling team.
When the Mustangs return from UTC and the golf course, the majority of time will be spent in the weight room in preparation for the upcoming campaign.
“After UTC camp, we will concentrate in the weight room for the most part. We may have some club practices available, we won’t make them mandatory,” explained Morris. “We always have kids that aren’t involved in other sports like football or cross country who would like to get on the mat.”
The summer months will also be spent ingratiating incoming freshmen to the rigors of high school wrestling. Morris said he is expecting a good crop up rising ninth graders to participate.
“That is something the coaches and I have been talking about. We want to do something a little different this year. We seem to have a pretty good number of eighth graders that will be coming up. We may ask them to be at club if they are not involved in other sports,” he said. “We also realize this is the time of the year families take vacations and kids have other activities other than wrestling. Really, as growing as our season is and take a little break. It’s the same with the coaches. We need a little break as well. My staff has worked very hard and I’m sure they have other things they would like to also.”
Still, with all the outside activities taking place and vying for the attention of would-be starters, Morris said the off time is a good time to see which of his Mustangs might be ready to step up and which ones are serious about the sport.
“We kind of know the ones already, although there are always a few that surprise us and maybe one or two that might disappoint us,” Morris said. “Again, if we don’t make it mandatory, we can tell the ones that will call or text me even during a break asking when if they can do something. Sometimes I tell them ‘no, just enjoy the time off.’ Before we know it, we are going to be back in the grind, and it will be pretty consuming.”
Even so, Morris knows there will be some of his kids who take it upon themselves to training and stay in shape in or out of the weight room or on or off the mat.
“More than we have had in the past, there are a lot of the guys that probably find a gym to workout. But, we are going to concentrate on getting stronger this year and hit the weights as much as we can. As far as getting on the mats, it will be kind of controlled anyway.”