The Lehigh wrestling team was preparing for NCAA Championships when the COVID-19 pandemic cut their dreams short last March. Seven months later, the team is back training together and holding out hope for a season.
Wrestlers would typically train together at set times throughout the week. But sophomore wrestler Brian Meyer said they have to split the team up into smaller groups.
Wrestlers now have to sign up for different time slots to ensure their own safety as well as that of the surrounding Lehigh community.
While not ideal, Meyer and his team are focusing on the positive, which is that they can get back to doing what they love.
“We are able to keep training, and some people aren’t,” Meyer said. “So we are lucky in that sense.”
Despite the difference in this form of practice, there are benefits to training in smaller groups.
“Wrestling is an individual sport, so training in smaller groups does not impact anything besides getting more work done in certain aspects of wrestling,” said junior wrestler Brock Herring. “We can pay closer attention to what we need to work on most.”
With all of the campus’s facilities closed this past summer, wrestlers were tasked with training on their own, Meyer said. The wrestling team had traditionally been one of only four teams to stay on-campus and train all summer.
Despite not knowing if they will have a season, the wrestlers have substantial goals for when they return to competition. They are looking to win their fourth EIWA Championship in a row.
But, according to head coach Pat Santoro, sports are more than just winning.
Santoro believes it’s most important to focus on improving as a wrestler.
“It is always a team goal to win our conference, but what we really want to do is just become better wrestlers,” Santoro said. “As you get older, you realize how important it is to have a system down and follow that in order to improve.”
The team is in its third week of practice, and wrestlers, ecstatic to be back, are taking one day at a time.
“We just got the athletes back on campus, and we were excited as a staff to bring everyone back on the same page,” Santoro said. “We are slowly getting refocused after a while off. We are trying to bring back the players in a smart way. We want to minimize injuries as well.”