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Bruins wrestling made PVL champions in outstanding season

Senior Derek Warner and Sophomore Blake Simning work on their wrestling technique during after-school practice. Photo by Sara Tate

The Bear River wrestling team has recently made history this season with the impressive title of back-to-back Pioneer Valley League champions. 

The team has achieved the PVL title twice previously and has now accomplished it two years in a row, which has never been done before. Coach Kevin Figueroa expressed he was very proud of the team. 

“I love it,” he said. “In the school’s history, it never won a PVL title, and when I took over the program in 2007, my goal was to win a title here.”

The school achieved a PVL title in 2011 and 2019 after Figueroa took over the program. Due to COVID-19 last year, the wrestling season was canceled division wide. 

This successful season was as exciting for the wrestlers as the coaches. Team captain Derek Warner shared his background in Bear River wrestling and his thoughts on the team’s accomplishments. 

“I have wrestled for all four years: my whole high school career,” said Warner. “It feels really cool, this being my second year accomplishing the title of PVL champions. I’m really happy that our team could do it.” 

This season was junior Grace Gurrola’s first season wrestling for the school. She feels very proud of the team and that she was able to contribute to the PVL title this year. 

“We were really overlooked; many people didn’t think much of us but we proved them wrong,” Gurrola said. 

The team’s popularity has come with time and is very exciting for Figueroa. 

“I love that our wrestling program is being recognized within the school,” he said. “I really love that.”

The hard work and skill were major factors in this achievement, however, the team chemistry and dynamic were large contributors. 

Warner wondered whether the outcome of the title would have been different based on the atmosphere.

“I don’t think we would have, actually,” he said. “I thought it was a really cool team setting. I found that all of us got along really well and we don’t bicker a whole lot.”

Gurrola agreed on how the team environment added to their success. 

“Being part of a wrestling team, especially Bear River, is somewhat like being in a family; we all are there for each other and care for each other,” she said. “We worked hard in the room, and did everything we needed to do and more.”

Figueroa saw these characteristics as well through his coaching. 

“It was a very good team dynamic,” he said. “It is a passion; there were wrestlers we were hoping would win and they didn’t, and there were wrestlers who didn’t expect to win and they did. So it was a great, diverse accomplishment.”

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Bruins wrestling made PVL champions in outstanding season