BERLIN - With a bevy of young grapplers, the Berlin wrestling team knows this season is one of learning, navigating through the highs and lows of dual meets and tournaments.
But the Redcoats also know and see the progress they’re making. It was on display on Saturday at the team’s tournament, the Art Powers Duals.
Berlin won three of its four dual meets on the day, including a 59-24 win over Bethel, a six-match win over Terryville and squeaked out a win over Pomperaug to finish in third place. The Redcoats only loss was to Branford, the tournament champions.
“We get better every week,” said Jordan Sparks, who competed at 195 pounds. “There’s improvement in practice and you can see it, in matches you can see it. In this last match with Pomperaug, we wrestled them at the Trumbull Duals and it was a chance to show how we could improve.”
Nate Orde (138) and Aidan O’Connor (170) combined with Sparks to go 9-2 at the home tournament with Orde winning all four of his matches. The trio is three of Berlin’s six seniors on a roster of 28 with half of the team being comprised of freshmen and sophomores. While Sparks, Orde and O’Connor have continued to help the younger wrestlers along, more experience can go a long way.
“We’re young, we need more mat time,” head coach Peter Veleas said. “Only way you get better is to be on the mat. As the season progresses we’ll get better and hopefully in the offseason my young guys will get on the mat and wrestle a little bit and we’ll get better. That’s where we are right now, we’re green.”
Mat time will be crucial for the Redcoats as Veleas said the number of techniques his team needs to work on is “too many to count.” Their inexperience came to the forefront in the loss to Branford as they lost eight matches by pin with five of them coming in the first period.
Berlin will have its next opportunity to see if it has improved on Wednesday when the team travels to Rocky Hill for a dual meet. With this season being focused on learning, the young wrestlers have ample time to hone their skills.
“I think it’s experience and wrestling better wrestlers than [us],” Sparks said. “Being competitive in matches, learning how to go six minutes so that you can still keep going when that time comes and you need to push through.”
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or email@example.com