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Bruin wrestlers fight for successful season

Bruin wrestlers practice for the new season. Photo by Sara Tate

The Bear River Wrestling Team plans to fight for a remarkable year during the 2019-20 season. 

The wrestling team aims to achieve a Pioneer Valley League (PVL) Championship victory this year, as well as having a multitude of individual goals. Coach Jeff Danieli talked about the struggles they have had in the past by taking the PVL title. 

“Our goal for the season is always to win League as a team,” he said, before elaborating that, “It has only been done once in school history. We have been close the last four years, losing it by one match each of the last three years.” 

However, wrestling is an individual sport even more than it is a team sport, so each wrestler also has their own personal goals. 

“As an individual, I’d like to win PVLs,” said Junior Ashlyn Canizalez, “And go to state, for girls state.”

“[My goal is] to not lose all my tournaments,” said Freshman Garret Bakey, who is wrestling for the first time this year.

Canizalez said that lots of there are lots of first-time wrestlers joining this year, but that the influx of fresh faces isn’t necessarily a bad thing. 

“It’s a very young team, but it’s a very eager to learn team, so that’s always really nice because obviously it’s nicer to be around people who care,” she said.

Sophomore Derek Warner, who has been wrestling for five years now, beginning before he arrived at Bear River, also praised the work ethic of the younger wrestlers.  

“It’s a lot of new people, there’s a lot of freshmen, which isn’t a terrible thing because all of the freshmen are super into it,” he said.

Coach Danieli elaborated on the pros and cons of an inexperienced team. 

“Some of the schools we will face have some returning experienced athletes,” he said. “… Wrestling is a sport that takes some time to learn and with the younger less experienced it makes it a little more challenging to accomplish our goals. But on the other side of the coin, it makes for a good solid team in the future… If the team can pull it off this year, it could mean many successful League Championships for the school in the near future.”

Coach Danieli also highlighted some of the wrestlers who are returning, and who have proved themselves in the past. 

“We have quite a few returners that I would say would be stand outs,” he said. “The top wrestler that I expect to do good things this year is Skylar Miller. He is a wrestler that comes with a lot of experience and I think he is hungry to go far this year. He was sidelined the last part of last year with an injury. Derek Warner, Ashlyn Canizalez, Jacob Vaughan… all of these athletes have come a long way and are proving they are ready to go.”

He also talked about his experience with Canizalez being a female wrestler.   

“Ashlyn is actually the returning League Champion in her weight in male and females,” Coach Danieli said. “She has gotten a lot of cool experiences over the off-season, and we expect her to do well this year as well. It is good to see some ladies in the room this year. I invite a lot more to come and try out a new sport.”

Canizalez explained why she started wrestling in the first place, going on to talk about why she’s stuck with it. 

“My freshman year, my uncle was deployed, and he was a wrestling coach so it just meant a lot to my family that I wrestled,” she said. “It really pushes you mentally and physically to another level that, before wrestling, I never experienced.”

Warner also started wrestling because of his family. 

“My brother started and I thought it would be cool if I did it too, with him,” Warner said. “He graduated last year but he did it all four years he was in high school.”

Other wrestlers had more general reasons for loving the sport. 

“It’s more of an active single-player sport, so I don’t have to rely on people to do stuff for me,” said Freshman Garret Bakey. “It’s very hands-on.”

Warner added something similar. 

“You don’t have to depend on the whole team to do it, it’s a lot more pushing for yourself,” he said.

Coach Danieli encouraged Bruins to come support the team this year.

“We have a duel on January 22 at Bear River,” he said. “We will be facing Center and Foothill. If all goes right, that will be the evening that the League Champion will be earned. So please everyone come out and support your wrestlers and your school.”

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Bruin wrestlers fight for successful season