PICTURED (left to right): KJ Williams, Brody Pickering, Willie Dennison
Tournament season is upon us in Indiana high school wrestling, and three varsity wrestlers from Anderson High School have advanced to the regional round of the postseason. The three are: freshman Willie Dennison (21-5 record), freshman KJ Williams (26-11), and senior Brody Pickering (30-8). They will compete in their respective weight classes at the regional tournament at Pendleton Heights High School this Saturday, February 4th, at 9:30am. They are spending this week working harder than usual, and Coach House has them doing more intensive conditioning in preparation for tougher opponents.
I had the privilege to meet and interview each one of them before Tuesday’s practice. When asked what their favorite part of wrestling was, both KJ and Willie immediately said “the pins”. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as winning a match by pinning your opponent to the mat. Brody, however, went a little deeper by saying that wrestling has taught him to never give up. In the postseason, especially, “you can’t give up, or you’re done”, says Pickering.
I also asked the wrestlers about their favorite memory from the season. Willie was excited about winning the NCC Conference while Brody’s favorite memory was the team win at the Hagerstown Invitational tournament. With a smile from ear to ear, KJ cited his favorite memory as “beating a 12th grader”!
For any good wrestler, it is always essential to have a competitive advantage; something that sets you apart from the average wrestler. When asked about what his was, Willie told me that he is typically “stronger and taller” than most of his opponents, and often has a longer reach too. Brody said that he has speed that few opponents are able to match. KJ also cited speed as his competitive advantage, but added that he stays disciplined and makes sure he doesn’t make typical wrestling mistakes that result in a pin. He waits for his opponent to do the things you shouldn’t do.
Lastly, I asked each wrestler what they do to get pumped up or focused just before a match. Willie and KJ like to listen to music and think about what they are going to do to beat their opponent. KJ said that he makes sure that he is going to try his hardest. Brody takes a bit more of a physical preparation approach, as he walks back and forth, jumping up and down to stay loose, get focused, and stretch his legs. He talks to himself to get focused on the match ahead.
Fun Fact: The favorite sports team to watch for each wrestler: Brody – Chicago Cubs; KJ – Golden State Warriors; Willie – Penn State Wrestling
We wish the boys luck at the Regional tournament on Saturday!