Wrestling team pins for wins

Varsity tested by difficult matches


Senior Owen Washlow rides his Lane Tech opponent in a meet against Lane Tech and Elmwood Park on Jan. 19. Washlow won the match after pinning his opponent in the second round on the team’s senior night. Photo by Jada Glazebrook

After swiping Tiger Balm under his nose, senior Nick Cottick was ready for his first match of the conference tournament on Jan. 21. 

“[Wrestling] is almost primal,” said Cottick. “The way I think of it, I don’t really think about who [my opponents are] or what they’re doing or thinking. It’s just, ‘What does it look like their next move is going to be?’ ‘What does it look like they’re leaving open for me?’ ‘Where does it look like I can make an opportunity happen?’ It’s almost like a video game.”

The morning of a tournament, wrestlers must weigh in to see if they have stayed within their weight class. If they weigh in higher or lower than their preferred weight class, wrestlers must compete in the weight class above or below. 

“As a wrestler, when you’re looking across at the next person you’re gonna wrestle, it’s really intimidating,” said Cottick. “Sometimes you’ll be like, Oh God, that guy looks scary … but it’s all a mental game.”

Matches consist of three two-minute rounds, but matches may end early if a competitor is pinned.

Senior Kyle Pambah’s first match of the Rex Lewis Invitational on Dec. 28 was the most challenging of his season because his opponent was a state qualifier last year, he said.

“It was aggressive,” said Pambah. “It got a little bit bloody, not overly bloody, but I got this scratch [under my eye] and something on my back.”

Pambah’s third match of the conference tournament was also bloody after he got a cut on his nose. But, Pambah ended with a win after pinning his opponent.

Pambah placed third overall in his weight class at the tournament, winning three of four matches. 

Senior Owen Washlow’s most challenging match was against New Trier on Jan. 6, he said.

“We went into overtime,” said Washlow. “It was like 4-4, and it was a seven-minute match. I was so gassed, and I should have won it, but I just started to mess up because I was so tired at that point. I couldn’t think straight.” 

Junior Siena Dini joined the program, the first female wrestler to join in three years. 

Dini had her first win on the JV team against Maine South on Dec. 27, winning by one point.  

“At first, I didn’t realize I won because I was so focused on the match that I thought I lost,” said Dini. “And then [the referee] raised my hand, and I was like, ‘Oh, I won.’”

According to head coach John Gilchrist, he admires Dini for joining the program.

She has earned her place on the mat just like everyone else, Gilchrist said. 

Because wrestling is an individual sport, Gilchrist incorporates team activities into practices. Towards the end of the season, the team played Spikeball to warm up for practice.  

Gilchrist likes to see everyone hanging out as a team and getting competitive before practice, he said. 

The team ended with a record of 7-15 this season. Junior Ayaan Rizwan and senior Laith Salim placed fourth in their respective weight classes at the regional competition on Feb. 4. Rizwan placed third in the conference tournament on Jan. 21, and sophomore Shane Onixt placed fourth.

“I come into every match with the same mindset,” said Cottick. “I can win, I can lose, and I’m the only person who’s going to determine that, not this other person in the ring with me.”