Competition drives Pointer wrestlers
Van Buren's wrestling jumps onto the mat after the Christmas Holiday break to go right into Class 5A competition.
This week the team had matches on Tuesday and Thursday. The women's team competed in a tournament on Friday and the men's team are at Pulaski Academy today (Jan. 9) for another tournament.
"I think we'll be pretty good this season," said Trevor Edelen. "We got some tough matches ahead of us. I'm really looking forward to facing Stilwell. The Oklahoma schools are a lot tougher. It'll be a real test for us."
"I'm really looking forward to competing at the Pulaski Academy tournament," Grant King said. "It will give me a chance to prove myself this year. I had a winning record last year but I put a lot on myself and all the work I'm doing pays off."
Both Edelen and King are driven to not only succeed at this level but to help Van Buren have another successful season.
The team finished fourth last season in the Big West Conference with four first-place wins. Edelen was among the wrestlers as he placed fourth in the 113 weight class.
"he wants to wrestle at the next level and is more than capable to do so." "Grant jokes me and he was a Butterfield kid when I was there, I made the comment to him that 'big boys belong in the wrestling ring' and he just stuck with it after one day."
King has lost just one match so far this season and Petree believes he's another VB wrestler who can reach the finals.
"He's kind of one of our unspoken leaders. He leads by example. He shows up and does everything right. What I like about him, we call him 'Bulldog' is that he has about the greatest mullet in the state right now but he's a funny kid," Petree said. "I know if I ever having a bad day... I can just go talk to Grant and he'll make me laugh."
Edelen, a junior, wrestles in the 120 weight class. He advanced to the state the last two seasons and is the favorite to win in Class 5A.
"It was tough to get to that weight but I've been doing this for a while," said Edelen, who has been wrestling since he was in seventh grade. "It becomes easy after a while."
"I'm thankful we got a two-pound allowance after the Christmas break," King said. "That's great to have."
Edelen was playing youth football and King was on the basketball court when they were recruited to join the Pointer wrestling team.
"That first day was tough. I've never experienced like that before," Edelen said.
"It was awful," said King. "I wanted to quit but Coach Petree told me to stick with it and I guess I did."
"He was hooked. He always sending me videos with the message 'I want to learn this.' The interest level is high with him," Petree said. "What I tell them is that wrestling isn't something you can come in and just be good at. Every day when you leave practice you're gonna question yourself 'Do I want to come back tomorrow?' But if you can make yourself come back you can do great things. It's like other sports, the more you practice the more you get better at it but I think it's more so with wrestling."
"Wrestling is individual. It's all on me whether I fail or succeed," said Edelen. "It's all about the work you put into it. It's all on yourself. I like how aggressive the sport can get. It seems non-stop once my blood gets going."
King echoed the sentiment.
"We compete as a team but we're out there as an individual," King said. "You really have to work hard to get better... every day to get better. I've been working with Seth Villeneuva, he's a great partner."
As a freshman, King (who wrestles in the 195 weight class) worked with last year's state champion RJ Riley. King also worked with Coach Dakota Petree, John's brother and assistant coach for the team.
"Wrestling has helped me in all aspects of my life and it has helped build me as a person," said King. "It's the grind that we do every day is what helps me and helps everyone else out there."
Edelen serves as the team leader and helps run the warm-ups at the start of practices.
The work Edelen has put into wrestling has translated into the classroom as he carries a 4.0 GPA.
"I'm looking for the right opportunity to go college," Edelen said.
While Covid-19 protocols have changed some things for all student-athletes across the state, King doesn't see it as a hindrance on his quest to reach the state finals.
"We're still out there trying to build a state championship team," King said. "[Covid] isn't a roadblock, for us, it's just a detour."