Thursday November 15, 2012

BRANDON CANEVARI

Manchester Journal

MANCHESTER -- Burr and Burton Academy’s newest winter sport is already generating a buzz around the campus.

When team practices begin for many sports on Nov. 26, wrestling will be among the sports on the list. And a significant number of students -- about 30 -- have shown interest in participating in the sport, according to head coach Zachary Monforte.

While it is unclear how many of those students he will be able to retain, Monforte said he believes that there are about 10 students who are committed to participating in the sport this winter. Among them are Hayden Audy and Trevor Wilson -- both of whom found out about the program through working out with Monforte.

Wilson said the sport appealed to him because it seemed interesting -- a sentiment that Audy also expressed.

"I thought it was really interesting how it’s an individual sport. Yes, you have a wrestling team, but it’s Š up to you to win matches and you to put in the effort to get stronger, faster and better," Audy said. "I also think it’s just a unique sport.

"I’ve never really been exposed to it before within the last few years and I think that it’s something really cool and I like trying everything."

The program will start as a club sport this year, but will also have some junior varsity matches, Monforte said.

"I do have a working schedule where we have some JV matches and eventually that’s something in the future Š that will go varsity, but right now it’s a club sport." Monforte said.

Mount Anthony Union High School wrestling coach Scott Legacy -- whose teams have won a national-record 24 consecutive state championships -- said that there is a possibility that some members of BBA’s JV wrestling squad might face the MAU JV team at tournaments this year, but that nothing had been finalized as of yet.

BBA’s first match will take place on Dec. 15 at the Granville (N.Y.) Tournament, Monforte said.

Practices do not officially start until after Thanksgiving but Monforte said members of the team have already spending time in the weight room to prepare for the season. This past weekend, Monforte took nine members of the team to a wrestling clinic in New York where they had the opportunity to learn from top instructors, including 1972 Olympic gold medalist and Iowa Hawkeyes coach Dan Gable and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Jordan Burroughs.

Another thing Monforte said he has encouraged his wrestlers to do is watch videos on YouTube and other websites of various wrestlers to prepare for the season.

"Mentally, they spend a lot of time just thinking wrestling, watching wrestling. Several of the guys have already have watched a ton of videos and have certain wrestlers that they like researching," Monforte said.

"Especially after this weekend guys love Jordan Burroughs," he said. "They love learning from him. He’s a 2012 Olympic gold medalist. He’s a young guy, he’s 24, and they’ve been watching his stuff. When you hear all that you feel like Š you’ve accomplished something. You’ve brought a sport in that they don’t know."

Going into the season Audy said he believes improving his technique and how to handle specific situations will be his biggest challenges.

"My coach, Mr. Monforte, has compared wrestling to chess. You got to really know what your opponent [is] going to do four or five moves ahead and I think that really comes with practice and it’s something that’s learned," Audy said. "So, I think technically that’s going to be the hardest thing."

Wilson -- who, as well as Audy, also played football -- believed the physical conditioning required to compete would be the biggest test he would face during the season.

"It definitely tires me out more than football," said Wilson. "It’s just a lot of endurance. You have to wrestle with some guy who also has probably just as much endurance as you and it just gets really tiring. 

"Like with me and Hayden Š last year we would do moves and wrestle each other a little bit and I would be beat."

Serious discussions about forming a team began about a year ago and Monforte said BBA headmaster Mark Tashjian, who used to be a wrestler, athletic director Kathi Bierwirth and Dorset author John Irving have all been supporters in implementing the program.

Building a competitive wrestling program is no easy task and by not jumping into a varsity schedule right away, Legacy said, Monforte is putting himself in a position to be successful and develop his athletes.

Legacy said that building a team was a four-year process. In his first four years, Legacy said his teams got progressively better, going 6-8, 8-8, and 12-3-1 before winning the state championship in his fourth season as head coach.

Legacy said Monforte should begin seeing results in his third or fourth year and that MAU would be willing to help.

"I think it’s a great thing," said Legacy of BBA starting a wrestling team. "I’m looking forward to it. We have three or four new programs in Vermont this year and if they become very competitive and they’re so close to us that’s very good for us. Š Whatever we at Mount Anthony can do to help them to be successful we will do."