Lakewood Wrestling On The Rise

Of all high school sports, wrestling offers the most intense one-on-one matchups, a competition in which mistakes are amplified and mental and physical toughness are at a premium. Wrestling is commonly regarded as the oldest sport in the world-- the famous cave paintings in Lascaux, France, dating back 15,300 years, depict wrestlers. When a Lakewood Ranger steps onto the mat, they are walking into history and into a crucible of sorts. It is high stakes winner take all with no ambiguity, and it can be painful.

Thanks to the efforts of Head Coaches Gray Cooper (Boys) and Doug Thomas (Girls), the Lakewood Rangers Wrestling program is on the rise. Kate Borkowski (Assistant Coach: Girls) and Ino Gjermeni (Assistant Coach: Boys) are also invaluable to the program. Last Thursday, the boys defeated Valley Forge while the girls program continues to grow and improve. There are great things ahead for the Rangers, and here is why.

Guided by dedicated coaches, the student athletes that comprise our present teams are committing themselves to their techniques, conditioning and competitiveness. The girls are pioneers, laying down a standard and setting an example for those to follow (middle school girls wrestling is growing in Lakewood). Last season, Captain Jillian Coulson and Zayna Muntaser were state qualified (Zanya is currently 7-0 on the season). Also competing for the Ranger Girls are Alex Horton, Savanah Tate (notched her first win last Thursday), Olivia Demery and Danika Patera. They are getting better with every practice.

The boys are led by senior Captain Mui Salti, a returning district qualifier. Mui won both his matches Thursday night by pin (Buckeye and Valley Forge). Coach Cooper described Mui as “a future wrestling coach if I ever saw one.” Despite not wrestling last year, Gavin Huntington, Donnie Mikuluk, Garrett Schweter, and Ed Horton are winning matches and, according to Cooper, are emerging as leaders on the team. Ed Horton wrestled up two weight classes against Valley Forge, and won his match by pin. Other Rangers stepping up to the challenge are Ler Lah, Nicholas Abderrazzaq, Farhad Ali Shah, Aeld Allkushi, Derrick Blanchard, Angel Shepherd, Nick Marinai, Titus McAlvery, Devyn Whitlock, Dylan Wilson, Quincy Vales and Henry Mossman.

The great things ahead will hopefully include multiple district and state qualifiers, but there are no guarantees. But, according to Cooper, there is one sure thing—wrestlers will be happier and more successful in life for taking up the challenge. I agree. Wrestling requires so many of those qualities that we want to help nurture in our students/emerging citizens—mental toughness, persistence (especially in the face of adversity), and above all, a growth mindset. Your wins offer an opportunity to reflect and get better, just as your losses do. Winning is fun, losing can be agonizing, but you live and learn.

Our coaches have set in motion plans to grow the youth program, to build upon our momentum and increase participation at all levels. It will be a treat to watch the oldest sport in the world grow in Lakewood.

Dr. Charles Greanofff

LHS graduate, 1977. Teach History and Psychology at LHS

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Volume 18, Issue 24, Posted 7:26 PM, 12.21.2022