Kent wrestlers have put in work and made their mark on high school state rankings.
Kentridge senior Zach Seibel (170 pounds) and sophomore Derek Freitag (106) are each ranked second in their divisions. The duo shared their thoughts about how it feels to be near the top and how they stay competitive.
Seibel is less surprised by his accomplishment. He says that it was simply a number and reflects his drive to succeed. He says he knows he’s a talented wrestler and the validation is welcome but not critical to his outlook on the sport.
Seibel, who has been wrestling for close to 10 years, says that he focuses on his standing game, preferring to score points above the mat to demoralize and intimidate his opponents.
“For me it’s a confidence booster,” he says. “If I’m the first to score I just keep pounding it on until the guy gets too tired. I’m really, really aggressive.”
The key to keeping the game in the air, he says, is footwork. He tries to control an opponent for the most points before establishing a pin through a leg sweep. He tries to stay on his feet for at least 75 percent of practices, and watches replays of Olympic wrestler Jordan Burroughs for tips.
He says that wrestling has been a great foundation for his other sports like football and track, and has given him a strong drive to win. When he’s not wrestling, he relaxes with the online game League of Legends or plays pick-up football games.
While Seibel’s strategy focuses on aggressive and explosive movement, Freitag aims for a more defensive strategy to gauge his opponents movements and wait for the right opening. The 15 year-old’s lean build lends itself to fast movement at the right opportunity.
Freitag, in his second year of wrestling, put in extra work in the offseason to improve his technique, but wasn’t expecting to make that much of a jump in the rankings.
“I was a nobody last year, so I came out and I worked,” he says. “I expected to be up there, but not quite second. It is a surprise to me, but I’ve worked hard for it.”
Constant work and a positive outlook help Freitag maintain his focus during matches. He doesn’t believe in focusing on his failures.
“The last match that I had to win, I was losing badly, and in the second round I started to make a comeback, and I won the match,” he says.
Freitag says it’s important not to equate confidence with cockiness.
“It’s more believing in yourself than saying you can do anything,” he says.
When he’s not wrestling, Freitag plays soccer, rugby, and volunteers through both his church and the National Honor Society.
While Kentridge has made a mark on high school wrestling, Kent-Meridian is also chomping at the bit with Amos Daigbe and Logan Jefferson, who will be featured in next week’s Kent Reporter.