UWO wrestlers adapt to COVID restrictions

Cory Sparks, Sports Editor

With the rise of coronavirus cases throughout the country, it’s no secret that sports must have restrictions. At UW Oshkosh, the fall sports seasons have already been canceled in terms of competitive games against opposing schools.

The Titans’ wrestling season has not been canceled, but training in preparation for tournament play has a different look this year.

“We split our team up into groups of about seven guys each and in each group, there is a captain leading the practice,” 149-pound sophomore Brandon Lenczner said. “It’s hard to get even a group of seven guys in the [Recreation and Wellness Center] right now to work out; so what we have been doing is a lot of running and a lot of body weight exercises.”

Joe Schulz / The Advance-Titan — From left, Freshmen Cody Welker, Cade Schmitz, Jake Stritesky and Nate Stokhaug lift weights at the UW Oshkosh Recreation and Wellness Center in preparation for their upcoming wrestling season.

The wrestling group size isn’t the only portion of the training procedures that have been altered to ensure the protection from spreading COVID-19. The actual training techniques in preparation for tournament season have also been altered.

“We do bodyweight exercises and running instead of wrestling,” 125-pound sophomore Luc Valdez said. “This difference has affected me the most. I personally get better faster when I get to wrestle.”

Despite the drastic changes that wrestlers have to adapt to in hopes that their performance stays up to par at the Division III level, most agree that the precautions being put in place are more than appropriate considering the challenges that COVID-19 has presented.

“With the current fear of COVID in the USA, I agree with the precautions put in place. I believe the precautions taken right now are the most effective way to get us back and stay in the wrestling room,” Valdez said.

Some wrestlers wish that there was a more convenient way to train while still implementing COVID-19 prevention procedures.

“The training methods that we’re using are really safe and are set up to protect everyone, but I feel that [they are] not the most effective way to train for our sport. [However], I do understand them,” 285 pound sophomore Guyon Cyprian said.

The wrestlers are taking the current situation as it is, and they’re adapting to the best of their abilities while having confidence in the team’s chances to perform at a high level this year.

“It’s hard to accommodate all the different rules into our training schedule, but we have been making it work, and I think we’re going to do some real damage this year,” Lenczner said.

As for the team’s key to success if COVID-19 cases stay low enough for wrestling competitions to commence, the blueprint is rather simple.
“I see the team doing great,” Cyprian said. “All we [have to] do is stay healthy.”