There has been a lot of movement on the wrestling mats this season and with the state duals in the rear-view mirror, the Reeltown program is one to catch up with.
Reeltown was excited to get back on the mats but the Rebels had numerous instances where their wrestlers missed time on the floor due to quarantines.
The Rebels may miss out on the 1A-4A state individual tournament, but the number of tri and quad matches throughout the season has shown the programs’ work ethic and how they’ve survived breaks in events.
“This has shown me that due to breaks in training for some athletes resulting from quarantine and the lack of individual tournaments, many wrestlers' endurance over the period of multiple matches is not as high as it typically is,” head coach Drew MacKay said. “We spend a lot of time in practice wrestling live to try to catch up on this endurance.”
It’s just one of the many challenges that the Rebels have faced throughout 2020-21. The Rebels adjust to the missing weeks of practice and competition, but some adjustments made to wrestling due to COVID-19 have been a good thing in MacKay’s eyes.
“The new weigh-in procedures and removal of the hair length rule have been an improvement over previous rules and should be kept even when COVID-19 is no longer an issue,” MacKay said.
There are a number of athletes that have come back and improved over the past few weeks. As the toll of quarantines and injuries plagued the Rebels, some athletes have found success on the mat this season.
“La'brian and Omorion Ponds. La'brian is a senior third-year wrestler, this year he has compiled a 14-2 record, he is currently ranked fourth in the state in 1A-4A at 195-pound and this will be his second year competing in the state tournament,” MacKay said. “Omorion is a sophomore second-year wrestler and has compiled a 10-0 record in the 145-pound weight class, this will be his first year competing at the state tournament.”
La’brian has done more than just be a ranked wrestler, he’s one of the Rebels’ captains and has been noted to push other wrestlers with understanding technique.
“La'brian leaves everyone in a better mood than before he interacted with him,” MacKay said. “Other coaches, officials, wrestlers from other teams and school staff have nothing but positive interactions with him.”
The Rebels have been able to build their momentum through their work ethic, even with matches being canceled or athletes being quarantined.
The talent in wrestling has shifted over the past few seasons but MacKay says that the growth of the sport in Alabama has reached more than what came in the past. That includes more new programs that began since the Rebels started theirs four years ago.
“I expect this trend to continue. Many more female students in Alabama have come out for wrestling and have seen success at the state level against male competition and on the national level against other female wrestlers,” MacKay said. “I hope that this trend continues as it brings more participation to and appreciation of how demanding and skill intensive wrestling really is.”