Ava Seccuro staff writer
The crowd was loud and engaged throughout the entire dual, as head coach Ryan Faintich shouted suggestions from the sidelines. The Normans won the first six matches, but later on, they suffered a four-match losing streak in the middle of the dual that hampered morale. However, tides changed after junior Daniel Winn broke the losing streak and sophomore Reef Travish beat his competitor in an explosive win.
The win over Mustangs was a big deal for the entire program, especially for the veterans on the varsity team like junior Jan Reyes.
“My freshman and sophomore year we’ve lost to them, but each year we’ve gotten better as a team,” Reyes said. “This year coming back after a loss, and…winning the dual [against] a team that hasn’t lost in five years, it’s a huge thing for us.”
In addition to the team’s work ethic, Faintich accredited the win to the team’s dynamic and overall experience.
“We’ve had the luxury of having a great leader, Daniel Heller, and a great core group of guys that are in their third year that are the beating heart of this team. Those are our juniors,” Faintich said. “And, for the first time since I’ve been coaching we have a really dangerous heavyweight, Jeremy Zarnegin, and we’ve never had that before so there’s really no weakness in our lineup.”
Reyes not only credited his team’s work ethic as the primary reason for their win, but he also claims that his captain’s expectations push him to set goals for himself.
“The work ethic in the room [changed everything]. We have kids like Daniel Heller who have a huge work ethic and everyone else copies his work ethic; they want to work as hard as him because they want to be as good as him,” Reyes said. “For me, I always try to keep up with Heller and how hard he works because I want to be as good as him, and we all just want to improve and win league.”
The highlight of the dual, according to the team, was Travish’s action-packed match which shifted the energy of the dual. Travish believes his victory was crucial to his development as a wrestler.
“Right before the match, coach told me if I won [the match], that it was over for the dual so I just had to do it,” Travish said. “I felt like all I did was succeed at my goal, not go above and beyond. It felt good, but I could do better…[I want to] do it at a high-level tournament, at CIF, get to masters.”
Just as his coach influenced his win, Travish acknowledges the role his teammates played in his win
“Without the encouragement from my team on the side, I never would have won that match. The match is 90 percent up in my head: 90 percent mental, 10 percent physical,” Travish said.
Faintich is proud of how much effort the team put into their win, and emphasizes that each member contributed to the program-wide victory.
“At the end of the day, the kids went out there and literally every single person got their job done. Everything that needed to go right for us went right,” Faintich said. “This is by far the best team we wrestle on a yearly basis, and I’m very proud of every guy and girl. Every single person stepped up. The matches that could’ve gone either way…we found a way to win them all.”
The Norman’s next wrestling meet is next Tuesday, Jan. 15, away against the Redondo Union Sea Hawks (2-0).