According to Sam Sprangel, head coach of the team, nearly 80 percent of Bedford High School wrestlers don’t have any wrestling experience when they start their high school careers.
The Bedford High School wrestling team came into the 2022-2023 season with 11 seniors on their roster. Each senior has at least four years of hard work, experience, and development heading in their fourth and final season wrestling at BHS, including seniors and captains Aaron Kreiter, Ian Grove, Philip Livingston and Austin Cullis.
That’s just one of the reasons this season feels special.
This season has the largest number of athletes on the team since Sprangel started coaching wrestling at BHS in 2018. All students at Bedford High School are welcome and invited to join the team with no tryouts, team cuts, or experience required.
This season started with more than 30 athletes. The junior varsity and varsity teams practice together after school in the back gym of the high school. Around 10 wrestlers on the teams are brand new to the sport, primarily first-year students, including four ninth graders who are now competing at the varsity level.
There are around 12 matches each season with competitions against one other school during the week or individual matches and tournaments on weekends. The best wrestler in each weight class competes at the varsity level. According to the MIAA website, the traditional weight classes are 106, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160, 170, 182, 195, 220, and 285 pounds.
A match is held between two wrestlers in the same weight class. The winner is decided by who can pin their opponent (both shoulder blades are flat on the mat for a least one second). If there’s no pin before the match ends (two three-minute periods), the winner is determined by whoever scores more points. Points are awarded by officials for maneuvers called take downs, escapes, reversals, back points, and also based on opponent penalties.
Nearly every athlete on the BHS varsity team has at least one win this season. This past Saturday, Bedford competed in a match that brought home victories against Lynn Tech (54-18), Cambridge Rindge and Latin (54-24), and Malden/Everett (60-18) and a tie against Bishop Fenwick (42-42).
Coach Sprangel, a former high school wrestler himself, says that his “favorite part of the sport is that it helps young people develop into confident adults. It helps develop characteristics like discipline, tenacity, and humility.”
Senior wrestler and team co-captain Aaron Kreiter agrees. Kreiter discovered wrestling in early elementary school with the encouragement of his older brother. Even at an early age, he recognized that the sport required a lot of dedication, with long practices and hard work. When other interests distracted him from his commitment to wrestling or when losing matches filled him with frustration, Kreiter’s older brother always encouraged him to return, even so far as bribing the younger sibling with use of his older brother’s Xbox and lacrosse stick.
Kreiter said, “Looking back, I don’t regret sticking with the sport and getting better every day.”
He said that the discipline and tenacity he’s had to use throughout his wrestling career extends to the rest of his life and is “the reason why it is so hard to quit even when life gets tough.”
Sprangel adds, “I’m looking forward to the growth in skill and confidence that our team undergoes throughout the season.”
The season is off to a great start.