As seen in the Feb. 21 print edition.
Jackson Prince, sports co-editor
“The 2013-14 wrestling season was monumental,” junior Raven Castro said.
In what was their best finish in Beverly history, the varsity wrestling team made noise this year, remaining undefeated in league as a team until falling to South Torrance on Feb. 4 in a duel determining the league champion.
“Losing the league title was devastating,” Castro said. “We knew the other team was really good, but so were we.”
While the team was shaken by the loss, their season was marked by “first-evers” and highlights, as the boys were able to “bring honor and success to the program,” according to senior David Prokopenko.
Throughout the year, the wrestlers broke records left and right. For the first time ever, three Normans (Castro, Prokopenko and senior Bram Geiderman) placed in the top-12 at Morro Bay, a “revered tournament held among wrestlers throughout California,” according to Geiderman.
Sophomore Iman Dayani broke the takedown record this year with 115, almost doubling the previous record.
“I worked really hard drilling my takedowns in the wrestling room and [the practice] has truly paid off,” he said. “I’m ecstatic about breaking the record.”
While the individual members shined bright this year, perhaps the “monumental” quality of the season for the entire team came to fruition against North Torrance.
“North Torrance has always been the greatest team in our league,” Castro said. “They’ve had several
state placers and have always won the league title.”
In the time between Beverly’s last victory in a duel against North Torrance, a man landed on the moon, two presidents were acquitted and parachute pants were worn. In other words, it was a long time coming, and this was the squad to end the drought.
“By the time we reached [North Torrance], we were already used to winning,” Castro said.
The confidence of the team led to a “blowout,” which gave Prokopenko “one of the best feelings of the entire season.”
“Their coach was aware that we would destroy them, and he didn’t let the younger wrestlers watch their varsity team lose,” he said. “Beating them was a stepping stone to what we wanted to accomplish.”
With their loss to South Torrance (and thus their loss of the League Championship), the team opted to pull out of CIF team duels, as to “divert all attention to making as many individual CIF qualifiers as possible,” according to Castro.
The boys weren’t blessed with an easy road to success. The team was young, as most of the lightweight competitors were sophomores. Geiderman acknowledged that “they put in hard work and came up big in their match-ups.”
Present also were the age-old difficulties of injuries (as the sport is very physical) and making weight. Prokopenko also noted a “lack of commitment,” but followed up with the fact that they “wrestled through the odds.”
But despite the hardships that accompanied the season, the team succeeded in “monumental” fashion. The Ocean League runners-up were “one of the best Beverly teams the school had ever seen,” according to Prokopenko.
“This is only the beginning for the team, and I’m proud to say I was here to lead the way [as captain],” he said.
Geiderman, who will wrestle at the University of Missouri, found his senior year to be his “favorite.”
“My last year of being a Norman wrestler was amazing. It was just that much sweeter to be the captain during this historic season,” he said.
Some of the wrestlers aren’t finished yet, however. Some will compete in individual finals, to which all of their preparation has been focused recently. For Castro, the success of his team has given him “momentum” for the duels to come.
The student section doesn’t quite show up in the “wrastlin’ room” as it does in the Swim Gym or Nickoll Field. This historic season has many wrestlers hoping to see a boost in “hype” surrounding the squad. Though dominant seniors such as Prokopenko and Geiderman will leave the mat, the team is young and “has a bright future,” according to Dayani.
The Normans, in their pursuit of success and respect, brought down long-standing records as they brought down their opponents. With victories against Samo, North Torrance and Torrance in league, as well as their triumphs individually and in other tournaments, the wrestlers had one of the most prosperous seasons of any Beverly team this year.
UPDATE: This past weekend, eight Normans qualified for the individuals section of CIF. Prokopenko (wrestling in the 145-pound weight class) and Geiderman (195-pound) came in first within their respective divisions, and Castro (132-pound) and Dayani (138-pound) placed second in their classes.