- Associated Press
Sunday, May 24, 2020

GREENWOOD, Ind. (AP) - From the comfort of his living room, Greenwood wrestler Eli Ross is able to get in shoulder and bicep workouts without the benefit of weights.

Ross has filled two milk jugs with water, another two with sand and two more with rocks.


The makeshift setup is one of the methods used by the junior to maintain his strength until things return to normal after the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many other Johnson County wrestlers, Ross, a two-time regional qualifier at 160 pounds, became creative in how he remains fit despite not having a practice partner or coach nearby to dispense advice.

“You should always have a partner and a coach to get better,” said Ross, one of three Woodmen captains for next season with fellow seniors-to-be Anthony Walker and Chris Ping. “Over the virus and staying at home, I was able to get a wrestling dummy to practice throwing.”

Ross maintains his level of cardiovascular conditioning by running one to two miles most days.

Indiana governor Eric Holcomb’s gradual reopening of the state includes school-sponsored summer activities resuming on July 1. The first meeting for members of the 2020-21 Greenwood wrestling team is scheduled for the following day.

“Their conditioning isn’t what I’m worried about. It’s more that mentally they’re in a good place,” Woodmen coach Jay Yates said. “They’re bored. But I think when we start back in July that they’ll be pretty motivated and it will have more meaning.

“There’s definitely going to be a lot of energy and excitement to get that social aspect going.”

In the meantime, wrestlers at Center Grove, Franklin, Greenwood, Indian Creek and Whiteland are doing what needs to be done from the comfort of their living room, basement or garage.

Having a family member with wrestling experience is a big plus. Center Grove sophomore Drake Buchanan, fresh off a sixth-place state meet performance at 182 pounds, competes against his father, Joel, a few times a week on the wrestling mat at the family residence. Joel, 51, wrestled at Columbus North, graduating in 1987.

“Right now what I’m doing is wrestling with my dad three times a week. He’s not the best technically, but he’s really strong,” Drake Buchanan said. “I feel very fortunate that he’s stayed in shape. My dad made the first round of state his senior year.”

Buchanan also plans to continue playing for the Trojans’ football team, and practices speed and jumping drills in his back yard.

Franklin junior Jake Bechert has a wrestling mat and workout room in his basement. He and younger brother, Luke, who’ll be a freshman for the Grizzly Cubs in the fall, make it a point to get their work in.

“We’ll go down there once or twice a week to wrestle and about five times a week to work out,” said Jake Bechert, who is coming off a 25-12 season at 120 pounds but figures to jump to 145 or 152 as a senior. “This whole quarantine thing is a lot different than anything we’ve been through before.

“We’ve never had to work out this much from home. I miss my teammates, though. They help motivate me.”

Whiteland freshman Joey Buttler, a semistate qualifier at 113 pounds over the winter, helped transform the guest bedroom at his house into a weight room. Buttler, who figures to compete at 113 or 120 next season, lifts seven days a week, splitting workouts between push exercises (chest, triceps and shoulders), pull (biceps, back, forearms and abdominals) and legs.

“It’s obviously hard. You can do stuff, but the kitchen is right downstairs, so you’re tempted,” Buttler said. “I’m very good about my diet, even in the offseason, so right now the (cardiovascular) exercise is the hardest part. The weather is very indecisive. It’s getting better now, but for a couple months it was bad.”

Coaches, too, are trying to help their athletes the best they can in trying times.

“Our guys are doing in-home workouts, things they’ve sort of developed on their own,” Center Grove coach Maurice Swain said. “It kind of goes back to the old-school ways in the 1990s and early 2000s when there weren’t a lot of offseason workouts and tournaments.

“Sometimes, I think kids need a break. That’s kind of how I’ve been looking at it. It’s a chance for everyone to get healed up and get the batteries recharged.”

Yates created a web page for Greenwood wrestlers in grades 9-12 next season. Included are announcements and workouts they can do from home.

The Franklin program is active on social media, with Facebook and Twitter pages. Coach Jim Tonte uses those platforms in order to make interviews with everyone from high-level coaches to first responders available in order to keep wrestlers motivated.

It is, after all, a time when it would be easy for a teenager to lack the normal discipline pertaining to exercise and diet.

“The first day this happened, we filmed a video so kids could train at home without a partner,” Tonte said. “We’ve taken a big initiative to do some things and not just sit around.”

Franklin returns six wrestlers who qualified for the Evansville Semistate, three of whom made it to state.

“(Tonte) keeps reminding us what the goal is for next year, which is a state championship for the team,” Jake Bechert said. “I definitely think we can pull it off if we continue to work hard. It’s given me an opportunity to close the gap on some kids who maybe aren’t working as hard right now.”

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Source: Daily Journal


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