In a sport where toughness and competitiveness go a long way towards success, the Westbury High School varsity wrestling team is off to a promising start. Though the season has only been underway for a couple of weeks, the team has already enjoyed a second-place finish in the Uniondale Tournament and is coming off a recent victory over Sewanhaka West by a score of 68-12.
“We’re looking tough,” said Head Coach Patrick McGovern. “We’re a quality team. We have a lot of seniors and we’re looking for leadership from them.”
The team failed to qualify for the playoffs last season, which might typically be thought of as a disappointing finish. McGovern, however, believes that the finish was strong considering how young last year’s team was. He also suggests that his wrestlers gained valuable experience, which will help them this season.
“I think it motivated them,” McGovern said of last year’s finish. “Seeing someone like [former Westbury varsity wrestler] Raeco Jackson, a state champion, in that room, they saw what they can do. I’m not disappointed in last year. And we only lost three seniors from last year. That’s why we’re so tough.”
Though McGovern saw last year as largely a positive, he has bigger goals in mind for this year’s team, not the least of which includes qualifying for the playoffs. He is hoping that the toughness his team has gathered will allow them to compete with the top teams.
“I think we’re going to make the playoffs,” McGovern said. “The number one team is Long Beach. They’re a really tough team. We expect to be right there with them this year, at number two.”
The team will be counting on many of its seniors to help make that happen. Among the key contributors are Willber Garcia, Rafael Moran and Samson Volant, all of whom McGovern expects strong seasons from. As McGovern points out, the one-on-one nature of wrestling allows for individual success as much as team success.
“The beauty of wrestling is it’s also individual,” he said. “We had 11 all-conference wrestlers last year and eight of them are back with us this year. We want to get those guys back to that level. So we want to have that individual success and also make the playoffs.”
Ultimately, McGovern feels that his team is well-balanced, something he cites as crucial to success.
“We have a good young core and good upperclassmen,” he said. “We’re looking to make a run.”