Fighting for the body!

Alek Wolfe, Assistant Editor

Sports, sports, sports. People love sports. Hockey, basketball, football and soccer are a few that people follow or play.

One sport that not everybody is familiar with is wrestling. Whether it be in the ring or just on the mat, it can be fun to watch, and challenging to participate in.

Because BFA does not sponsor a wrestling team, many in our community miss out on this historic sport.

The sport of wrestling dates back to the 19th century with the Romans. The sport was first introduced in the United States in 1888 with the National Wrestling Tournament, held in New York City. In 1904, the first wrestling matches were introduced to the Olympics.

But wrestling in the current day? Here in Franklin County? Here’s a surprise!

“It’s really fun. You’d be surprised at the amount of energy it takes to grapple with people because that’s what high school and Olympic wrestling is. It’s more grapple then it is physical like World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE.) It’s pretty amazing to see some of the situations and how people get out of them in wrestling,” Ki Tedford (‘18) said.

Even though Tedford goes to BFA, he wrestles for the Milton High school wrestling team, along with Sam Gebo (‘18).

Because BFA does not offer wrestling, Athletic Director Dan Marlow has made an arrangement where BFA students can compete in the sport.

“It’s comfortable; you get a good group of guys. They make sure you’re working hard and make sure you’re alright and watching your back. They make you feel welcome,” Gebo said.

Gebo has been wrestling since he was in elementary school. Tedford was introduced to the sport after Gebo approached him, telling him to try it out.

Just like any sport, you need to train before competing.

“There are 14 weight classes in a varsity line up ranging from 106 pounds to 285 pounds. The athlete has to be within that weight in order to wrestle in the tournament,” Phil Bidwell, the Milton High School coach, said.

Bidwell has been wrestling since 1997 when he attended Milton High School. He started coaching Milton Varsity Wrestling just last year.

“I like coaching the kids. It keeps them off the streets and keeps them busy and it shows them how to channel their aggression in a different way that isn’t going to hurt people,” Bidwell said.

Sometimes, the average person has misconceptions about most any topic. The sport of wrestling is no different.

A lot of people who know something about the sport but don’t take part in it compare it to WWE, with its sensational “SMACKDOWN” and “RAW” entertainment events. The athletes in WWE are trained and athletic, but what they do is staged.

“We don’t jump off ropes, we don’t have ropes around a ring. We are more technical where you are using moves to pin the opponent to the mat,” Bidwell said.

One way to win in high school wrestling is when a wrestler holds down an opponent’s shoulder or both shoulders tight to the mat for two FULL seconds. That’s a “pin.” There are other ways to score points, including a takedown. A referee moves around the mat to see the action, and relays points scored with different moves to the scoring table.

There are currently 50 wrestling programs in the state of Vermont. BFA used to have a wrestling program, but discontinued it some years ago.

Why, you might ask?

“The numbers and the funding. I talked to Mr. Marlow and they got rid of it in the early 1980s when they put the Complex in, because they wanted more money for tennis courts. So they cut the wrestling program,” Tedford said.  (Clarification:  Athletic Director Dan Marlow says: “Wrestling was discontinued after the 1978-79 season and had NOTHING to do with the building of the Complex and the need to have more tennis courts.”)

For BFA to start up their own wrestling program again, it would be much harder today than it was back then.

In the meantime, Gebo and Tedford are pursuing a very challenging and competitive sport, and they are both integral members of the Milton team.

“I think if there was more advertisement and more support of the program, then it would take off. I just don’t think there is a lot of word out there about the sport,” Bidwell said.