Wrestling team gives grapplers a second chance on the mats
By Matt Durr
John Barajas thought his wrestling career was over. The 21-year-old journalism major from Westland hadn’t competed since his high school days at John Glenn High School. But thanks to the newly formed club wrestling team, Barajas has been given a second chance at the sport he loves.
“I missed it a lot,” Barajas said. “It gives me motivation to do something again. Wrestling was all I knew in high school. I missed the competitiveness, and this brings back good memories.”
Barajas was one of nearly 20 students who attended the team’s first practice last Tuesday night. While the practice didn’t involve much grappling, coach Scott Lucas was happy to see the turnout and get to know his team.
“I couldn’t be more excited with the opportunity for wrestling in general and for the young men and women in this area,” Lucas said. “Wrestling in the state of Michigan, the opportunities are few and far between.”
Lucas, 45, is a retired fire chief from Westland who also spent seven years as an assistant coach at Eastern Michigan University. He competed at Michigan State from 1985-87.
Although in its infancy, the club team will be able to compete against other club teams in the state, according to Lucas.
“We’ll be able to compete with Grand Valley, U-M Dearborn and Mott Community College,” Lucas said. “We’ll also be able to compete with varsity programs at open tournaments.”
While competing against other schools is a welcomed opportunity, for the grapplers the opportunity to get back on the mats is the only thing that matters.
I wrestled for two years in high school, and I felt like I didn’t have enough years,” said Prince Kapoor, an 18-year old engineering major from Plymouth. “So this is cool that I’m a wrestler again.”
Chase Schneider, of Hartland, qualified for the state tournament all four years he was in high school. The 20-year-old criminal justice major is hoping to recapture his favorite aspect of the competition.
“The feeling of accomplishment, getting your arm raised after a match is always a nice feeling. It’ll be nice to have that back,” Schneider said. “I’ve wrestled for so long in my life, when I saw the flyer I thought ‘why not go and get back on the mats?’”
As enthused as the team is to get going, Lucas said the first couple weeks will be a feeling-out process for him and the wrestlers as they learn more about what the wrestlers’ skill levels are and how they can improve.
“We’re going to work in slow, we don’t want to run anybody off,” Lucas said. “We have everything from people who have never wrestled before to young men that were quite accomplished in high school.
“We have a wide variety and we want to really keep and develop everybody. If we can keep the guys that are new and develop the ones that have been around, it will make us a better team in the long run.”
As the team gets going and the season progresses, Lucas expects the number of competitors to continue to grow.
“I expect that after these guys get out and talk to people they know that wrestle, that we’ll have even more interest,” he said.
The team practices every Tuesday and Thursday from 7p.m. to 9 p.m. in ML 110. There are no costs to students, and the team is open to anyone who meets basic standards for competing in Club Sports at WCC.