Baldwin Wallace’s wrestling team endures through struggles of grueling season

The wrestlers credit the coach with their success and the good balance they have between academics and practice.


Robert Watson III

Junior accounting major Michael Patrella (left) junior sport management major Jacob Decatur (right) on March 7, the last practice before nationals.

BW’s men’s wrestling team has maneuvered through a five-month-long season and sent eight wrestlers to the Division III Championships. BW’s men’s wrestling team has maneuvered through a five-month-long season and sent eight wrestlers to the Division III Championships. But beyond takedowns and pins, the long season forces the team’s athletes with learning skills in another category: maintaining their mental health. 

 “Stress is all throughout wrestling. It’s just how you cope with it,” junior accounting major Michael Petrella said. “Like our coach says, it’s how you respond to the stress which makes us better as wrestlers … You’re tired. You get put through all these practices while you’re only taking in 1500-2000 calories.” 

Wrestlers are not the only ones under constant stress, however, as the coaching staff also monitors all these things while coming up with plans that best suit each wrestler, requiring them to dedicate an extreme amount of time to this craft. 

As a former collegiate wrestler, graduate assistant coach Ryan Monk has experienced  many wrestling seasons and understands the grind the athletes encounter — and how to survive it. 

“I can’t wrestle for them, and that can be stressful. There is some fear involved,” Monk said. “There’s a lot of ‘Did I do everything I was supposed to do on my end to get so and so prepared?’ But you try to do your best to stay on your Ps and Qs in terms of that individual’s preparation and helping them out to be the best they possibly can be.”  

Jacob Decatur, a junior sports management major and defending national champion, credited the unity between teammates as a necessity during the season. 

“Anytime we’re not in practice, or we’re not at a tournament, we’re usually just hanging out as a team watching some sports game or playing Xbox or playing basketball just hanging out chilling,” Decatur said. 

Petrella said wrestling is an individual sport, but at the end of the day, the athletes are a team. He said each team member pushes each other harder to get better, which brings the team together. They are all “in the suck” and “embracing the suck,” Petrella said. 

As for managing his academics, Decatur said last year’s Spring semester was rough for him, and he found it tough to balance everything, turning in a lot of late work. Still, he has learned from that experience and improved this year, completing his assignments on time. His teammate Petrella added that his grades don’t suffer from wrestling, but they could be better due to how hard it is to focus on school work while managing his wrestling duties. 

Ryan Haas, a fifth-year student double majoring in business administration and management and innovation, shared the values and motivations the coaches instill in the team to push forward. 

“Coach preaches that we’re allowed to have fun, but if it’s getting in the way of your family, your academics and your practices, then it’s probably getting too much,” Haas said. “So it’s all about finding the right balance and keeping your mind right; enjoying the little things in life but keeping your goals in mind at the end of the day.” 

The impact of the coaches on each wrestler is significant, as they spend a substantial amount of time coaching each individual on the team and figuring out what will specifically help them the most.  

Monk said each team member has their unique personality and wrestling style, and that as a coach, he learns to appreciate their individuality and figure out unique ways to make each them successful. 

“[The coaches] each know us personally, so they know what to do if someone needs what the other person doesn’t need,” Petrella said. “Last year I was going super hard, and I was training a lot more, and coach pulled me aside and said, ‘We’ll need you to take a couple of days off so you can recover.’ Maybe some of their guys need that, maybe some of them don’t, but our coaches know our paths, and they know how to get us to the next level.” 

The wrestling team placed third at the NCAA Div. III Championships on March 11. Petrella won the national championship at 149 pounds, and Decatur was the national runner-up at 125 pounds. Other wrestlers who placed were junior communication studies major Jaden Hinton in fourth at 133 pounds and senior cyber security analyst major Doug Byrne in fifth at 197 pounds. Petrella, Decatur, Hinton and Bryne were all selected as All-Americans.