Last year was one of a lot of challenges for Lansing High wrestling head coach Nick Flynn.
The Lions battled a plethora of setbacks that effected the team’s roster numbers at the varsity level and despite a number of talented athletes on the squad, the team’s record suffered.
“We had a couple of kids walking the hallways that could have been state placers if not state competitors,” Flynn said. “That was probably the hardest blow, but the injuries and stuff are controllable to an extent and sometimes they just happen. It was a good lesson for me because I had to learn and adapt and change. It was a hard and frustrating year. I think those kids are stronger now and more focused on doing the little things right. It’s a good lesson for them.”
Yet, the individual aspect of the sport can keep the morale positive even if the team can’t quite do it as a whole.
“You can find yourself and that’s what is good about our sport,” he said. “When your team is going, you can find motivation to keep working hard and pushing yourself. Everyone loves to be a part of something bigger than yourself. So when the team is going that’s when it happens. But when the team is not going, you can focus on yourself and little victories on the individual side.
“It’s good to see them out there to win matches and I didn’t see a loss of intensity from them. When the team builds, they will just be on fire.”
Sophomore Tyler Green agrees the importance of team and individual does help keep the passion burning if one lets down a bit in comparison to the other.
“Definitely, because coach Flynn always emphasizes that wrestling is a huge grind and if you have a goal and you stick your mind to it, it makes it a ton easier,” Green said. “Wrestling is one of those sports that over the course of the year, you become brothers no matter what happens. Of course, we always like to start duals strong, but individually, if we are up against a top opponent, it’s not always about winning, it’s about the team and fighting the pin.
“In tournaments, if you lose it does get pretty hard, but again, we just always try to back each other up and support each other.”
This summer, the team has bounced back with a large amount of participation in the wrestling room and helping with camps or just working on individual skills.
“Summer workouts have been great,” Flynn said. “Typically for open mats, we don’t have great turnouts, but this summer we have had about 15 to 20 kids turn out when we open the workout room. We also have a fantastic freshman class coming up. This one and the next one coming up are pretty special. There is a lot talent there. They are multi-sport athletes and not just centered on one part of their life. They are focused on getting better as athletes.
“I support kids playing other sports, simply because it provides that different athletic skill and the biggest thing with that, it teaches them time management and that’s something they will need when their careers are done. As long as they are getting in here … we just want to see them put in the work in here, the entire year. It can be one or two days a week, just keeping their skills sharp.”
The returning wrestlers are seeing a lot of good coming from the newcomers heading into the program.
“It’s looking really good with a lot of talent in the freshmen coming up,” Green said. “From what I have seen, I’ve wrestled with some of them in eighth grade and I know some of them have some serious heart and when it comes to wrestling that’s a huge thing.
“These new guys are really, really good and they also have the talent.”
Freshman Camden Maestas is looking forward to his first days on the prep wrestling mat. Maestas started wrestling when he was a little boy and has won state championship in elementary and middle school.
“I am excited for my first year and looking forward to spending this year with a great group of guys,” Maestas said. “Tyler is a big influence because he is always on the mat. I focus to be like him and help the rest of the team as much as I can.
“We have about five or six (freshmen) coming in and they are hard workers, good guys. We just keep pushing through everything, each difficulty, being a man about it and not breaking down. We all do a pretty good job of that.”
Green adds that he hopes the team can develop some heavier weight wrestlers as they have earned most of their points in the lower and middle weights.
Maybe if they can find some with the attitude of the incoming freshmen, things could turn around for the entire Lansing team.
“I want to compete with those nationally ranked guys and at state. I want to win it,” Maestas said.