BBA to host first wrestling match

MANCHESTER - The addition of the wrestling club marked a first for Burr and Burton Acadamey. On Saturday, a new chapter in the club's history will be written when the team hosts their first home match.

With the match just days away, there seems to be a certain excitement among BBA's wrestlers.

"I'm pumped," said BBA wrestler Sean Armstrong.

"It's history in the making," added teammate Nathan Hunter.

BBA coach Zach Monforte said Springfield High School - who is rebuilding their wrestling program - might have two of their wrestlers at the match. As for his wrestlers, Monforte hopes to have as many as four of his kids compete on Saturday.

The program began this fall with the team going to their first competition in Granville, N.Y. on Dec. 15. Since that initial competition, Monforte said he has seen a marked improvement among this year's squad.

Monforte said the first round of matches at the Granville tournament went as expected. The team, he said, was nervous and the matches lasted about a minute. Even at that tournament though Monforte saw a distinct difference between his wrestlers and some other first time wrestlers he had encountered.

"Usually with new programs kids get timid to step on the mat. These kids weren't timid at all," Monforte said. "They went at their opponent. They were trying to do their moves and it was just rookie mistakes that those guys capitalized on. The second round they didn't win their matches, but I had one kid go six minutes with a kid from (Au) Sable Valley that I think was seeded No. 1 or 2."

More recently, the team has been experiencing some success. At a recent match in Middlebury, Monforte said one wrestler placed first, another placed second, and two kids took fourth place.

"They've grown and I remind myself we're an eight week program," said Monforte. "They get frustrated in the sense that 'I want to win, I want to win' and they have the great attitude, but I remind them 'you guys have to remember you're eight weeks and you're wrestling kids that have years, that have been in the pee-wee programs, that have years on you. To win matches and to [get to] where we [are] is just amazing."

According to some of BBA's wrestlers, their rapid improvement is due not only to the strenous conditioning that they have been going through throughout the season, but the coaching they have received from Monforte as well. Each match is video taped and throughout the season Monforte has made it a practice of analyzing the matches with his wrestlers - something they have found to be extremely helpful.

"[We'll do] study skills and we'll be like 'coach I want to know what I did wrong in this video, can we go over it real quick?' And he'll sit down with us and he'll go over everything that he liked and everything that he disliked and what we should have done better and what we can improve on," said Armstrong. "It's phenominal how much it's helped."

"We wouldn't be where we are if coach wasn't here," added Hunter. "That's probably the biggest help."

The success the team has had has not been limited to the mat though. According to Monforte, participating in the sport has had a positive impact on them academically.

"Wrestling has played a positive influence and role in their lives," Monforete said. "They have made huge turnarounds in school and it's great when you get a compliment from a teacher saying 'Wow, you're kids are great."

Athletic Director Kathi Bierwirth expressed similar sentiments.

"I just talked to the head of the Art Department this morning and she said one of the boys that's wrestling his grade has gone up tremendously in the class and that he's been a positive influence in class as well," said Bierwirth. "[So,] I think it's just positive all the way around."

BBA's first home match takes place on Saturday at E.H. Henry Gym beginning at 1 p.m. As of press time, Springfield was the only school expected to compete.


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