Panther wrestlers ready to pounce into 2021-22 season

by Danny Leder, Freelance Writer

The GRHS wrestling room is buzzing with anticipation of the 2021-22 wrestling season. The returning wrestlers expect this season to be a lot different, and – they hope – better than last season.
Due to COVID-19, there were required restrictions and procedures in place for the 2020-21 season to occur, postponing the season all the way to the spring, limiting the number of wrestlers in the room, slightly altering training, and increasing cleaning protocols (especially during matches).
“Last year was tough. Covid shut down everything. We didn’t have the full wrestling experience, tournaments, quads, or districts – only duals,” said junior and third year wrestler Liam Manning. “Last year the team bond wasn’t that high. This year we have more upperclassmen, which means it’s better to build: more confidence, more matches.”
Back and ready for another season as the Panthers head wrestling coach, Corey Fitzpatrick, is eager to get back to a more usual season of wrestling.
“So far this season the atmosphere in the wrestling room has been tremendous. We have a good mix of experience and new wrestlers,” said head coach Corey Fitzpatrick. “We’ve probably progressed quicker in the practice room more so this year than any other year that I have been here.
This year we only have one Senior and that is our team captain Nolan Clark.
“He has really stepped up in a leadership role this year and has done a tremendous job over the first few weeks running warm ups, cool downs, and leading by example both in the wrestling room and weight room.”
The pre-pandemic wrestling team was able to win two Division titles back to back and coach Fitzpatrick says that one of the team’s goals for the year is to win another. They also qualified for the Team State Sectional in four consecutive years.
“Although there was no team state tournament last year I would like to make that 5 in a row for this year,” Fitzpatrick said. He then went on to the solo aspects of the sport. “On an individual standpoint, we have a couple of individuals who can make runs in counties, districts, regions, and beyond. I am looking forward to a great season both as a team and individually.”
Team captain Nolan Clark says that he feels confident about the upcoming season. He then elaborated: “We have a lot of returning guys with experience and a bunch of new guys who are picking up the sport really quick. It’s nice to get back to a normal wrestling season after having such an interesting one last year. It will be fun and I’m excited to get back on the mat.”
The Panthers have an exciting season ahead of them with the opening match at Ridgewood on Dec. 23. Another notable match is against Hawthorne at home on Jan.14.
“We have a lot of kids and it’s a great atmosphere,” said junior and third year wrestler Ryan Hoza. “We have a bunch of new coaches. It’s a new team but there are a bunch of juniors. We’re gonna have a great season.”
The Panthers wrestling season kicks off with a scrimmage at Roselle Park on Dec. 11. Glen Rockers can first cheer the team on at home in the GRHS gym on Jan. 4 versus Rutherford.