By: Kyle Qian
MSJ Wrestling continued its impressive performance at NCS by bringing home a total of four medals, the most for any MSJ team infor over a decade, and sending two wrestlers to the California Interscholastic Federation (States) championship held at Bakersfieldfrom March 2-3. Seniors Corbin Lee and Will Booth entered States by placing 3rd in the 120 pound weight class and 4th in the 113 pound weight class at NCS, respectively. The Smoke Signal had the opportunity to speak to both Corbin and Will about their wrestling careers and experiences at State.
Smoke Signal: What first got you into wrestling?
Corbin Lee: I started wrestling freshman year because a lot of my friends did and they convinced me to. I didn’t know much about wrestling at the time but I thought it would be cool to try it.
Will Booth: I liked the wrestling unit in PE atHopkins, but I didn’t know that there was a wrestling team until I saw the 8th grade yearbook picture of them. I had thought about joining the high school wrestling team my freshman year because I knew a few friends that were joining. After the PE unit in high school, Coach Thomsen came up to me and convinced me to join the team because I was pretty athletic.
SS: What was it like competing at the state level for the first time?
CL: Competing at the state level is much different than most other tournaments. You can’t overlook any of your opponents because everyone there is good. You have to be ready to wrestle from the start. State takes place in a huge arena which is different than the usual high school gym and it’s easy to get thrown off by wrestling in such a large venue.
WB: Competing at the state level was amazing. I had a big first round, then went 0-2. I had a tough draw in the brackets, and I got handled by a couple of guys who were ranked really high. It’s hard when I only started four years ago, while most of the people I wrestle who rank in State have been wrestling since kindergarten, but I feel that the sheer amount of work and effort I’ve put in over my four years have allowed me to compete with people who’ve been wrestling for much longer.
CL: To qualify for state, you have to take top four in NCS.
WB: Wrestlers qualify for State by placing in their section. Each section sends a different amount of people to state depending on how tough the section is. In NCS, we send the top four placers to State. To qualify for NCS, you must place in the top three in MVAL.
SS: As a senior, do you plan to keep wrestling after graduating from Mission?
CL: I’m not sure about wrestling in college. Right now I’m just waiting to hear back from all my schools. I do have a couple schools in mind that I’d like to wrestle for but I haven’t decided for sure yet.
WB: As a senior, I couldn’t find many Division II or III schools that had wrestling and would offer me a challenging education. Many schools have been cutting wrestling programs because of dying interest and Title IX. MIT’s wrestling program recently got cut, and I was pretty upset when that happened. If I do wrestle, it’ll probably be a club team that competes at the Division II level, but I’d say it’s more likely than not that I don’t wrestle competitively in college. I still aim to be involved in wrestling, whether it be for a non-competitive club or to help coach.
SS: Do you have any advice for students possibly interested in wrestling?
CL: I would recommend that anyone interested in wrestling should try it out for at least one season. A lot of kids quit within the first few weeks but you really don’t get the full experience unless you stay for one full season. All the kids that do stay for a season are glad they did and most of them want to come back the next year and wrestle more.
WB: Wrestling is one of the most physically taxing sports, as well as mentally challenging. I feel it is also one of the most rewarding sports because nothing tops the feeling getting your hand raised after a match, knowing that the hard work you put in is worth it. If you are committed 100% for four years to the program, you will place in NCS because our coaching staff is excellent, and the wrestling program has a storied tradition at MSJ. Be prepared to challenge yourself more than you ever have before because “Once you have wrestled, everything else in life is easy.” –Dan Gable
SS: Any shoutouts to people or a particular person who helped you get this far?
CL: I’d like to thank all my coaches: Thomsen, Do,Gary, Ricky, Brian, Kurt, Dempsey, and Zach. I couldn’t have gotten as far as I did without their help.
WB: Shoutouts go to Coach Thomsen, the rest of the coaching staff, who are all MSJ alumni, and my drilling partner for four years and two-time State qualifier, three-time NCS placer Corbin Lee.