James Thomas (12) and Elias Romero (12) wrestle their way through summer

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Clio Rao, Staff Writer

Varsity Wrestling team members James Thomas (12) and Elias Romero (12) stayed occupied with tournaments, hours of training, and research into college wrestling programs. Even though it can be hard to balance with multiple time commitments, training over the summer is crucial for staying fit and preparing for the coming season, Romero said.

Thomas attended multiple tournaments and other events this summer, including the Journeymen New York State Championships and local tournaments in Connecticut, he said. Thomas received a pin at states — wrestlers receive pins for pinning their opponent down on both shoulder blades for an automatic win — and top three placings at the local tournaments, he said. 

Romero was unable to attend tournaments this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he said. Because tournaments are large gatherings, Romero and his family did not feel that it would be safe to attend, he said. Also, due to his busy work schedule, it was more convenient for Romero to practice rather than compete, he said. However, a typical summer competition schedule for Romero includes multiple smaller, local tournaments that serve as qualifiers for larger tournaments.

Although he did not attend tournaments this summer, Romero wrestled around three times a week, in addition to doing cardio and weightlifting three times a week, he said. Unlike previous years, Romero trained at the Jersey Shore with a club coach and other teammates that he met this summer, he said. 

Unlike Romero, Thomas trained alone. However, he had support from his family, fellow teammates, and coach, he said. Thomas found unexpected benefits from training alone, such as getting to be alone with his thoughts and learning how to manage that process, he said. 

Thomas found it difficult to achieve an extensive training schedule this summer due to a job at a sleepaway camp with a 14-hour workday, six days a week, he said. Regardless, Thomas tumbled and shadow wrestled for about an hour a day and ran sprints for two hours a day, he said. 

Similarly, Romero worked a full-time job, which made it difficult to fit wrestling practices in his schedule, he said. 

Romero used all of his extra time this summer to stay in shape and to gain exposure to college programs and coaches, he said. One strategy for getting exposure to colleges is wrestling in front of college coaches in order to showcase drilling and technique abilities as well as live wrestling abilities, Romero said. 

“It takes a lot to be the best,” Thomas said. “It’s all in preparation for our senior season, and maybe college, but whatever makes me better is what I look forward to.”