Coming off a 2015 season that WAHS record-books show to be the best in team history, the 2016 WAHS varsity wrestling team has big shoes to fill. Consider this: Last year’s dual record was 19 wins and five losses; achievements included winning the Jefferson District and Conference 29 tournaments, and placing sixth at the Region 3A West event; additionally, 12 of the team’s 14 wrestlers qualified for regionals, with two placing at states.
And yet, graduating only two starters—including Russ Hill, who placed third at last year’s state tournament and is now wrestling as a true freshman for NCAA Division I powerhouse The Citadel—with six starters returning, head-coach Adam Mulcahy and WAHS wrestling fans have much to be excited about. “This team has a ton of leadership and an ultra-high-quality work ethic,” said Mulcahy. “That helps show the younger guys the expectations and set the practice tone. Last year, with only two seniors, we missed that ethic. It was a real deficiency.”
Hoping to solidify the team ethos, WAHS wrestlers worked out and trained together throughout the spring and summer, and attended a prestigious, week-long summer camp at UVA. “The camp was a great team-building week and allowed our kids to get back on the mats in a competitive environment with their team,” said Mulcahy. “We took the experience and used it to build momentum going into the fall, working hard on developing our technique.”
Topping the list of returners is senior Nate Riley, who wrestles at 182 pounds and placed sixth at last year’s state tournament. “Nate has a chance to break the WAHS all-time win record this season,” said Mulcahy. “He could finish his career at Western with over 150 wins, which would be an amazing feat.”
With such a deep squad, the team features many standouts. These include senior Asa Shin, one of the top 170-pound wrestlers in the state, who Mulcahy says will likely join the career ‘100-Win Club’ this season. Additionally, there are seniors Anthony Ramazani at 138 pounds and Will Davis at 145 pounds. “Will and Anthony are incredible leaders for us that set the practice tempo daily and push the other wrestlers to do better,” said Mulcahy. “Both finished in the top-eight at regionals last year and are working relentlessly to punch their ticket to states.”
While championships, awards and winning records are great, Mulcahy says they often overshadow the element of the sport that, for him, matters most. “The transformation these guys undergo from season to season and year to year is just—it’s unlike any other,” he said. “They grow in fortitude, willpower, character, strength, skill and toughness. And that’s what really matters. That’s a truly humbling thing to be a part of.”