The grind doesn't stop once wrestlers, other high school athletes end one season

George "Clay" Mitchell
Press Argus-Courier

Compete for a state title on Friday, and it's back to work on Monday.

After Van Buren finished its wrestling season, the team was back on the mat three days later. I'm sure that's the same for every team and across Crawford County. The season ends on the weekend and it's right back to work the following Monday.

Van Buren wrestler Addison Loney told me in February that there was no off time for her. After she won the state title in 2020, she returned to the mat after the weekend. 

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She finished this season 31-1 with a 5A West Conference title and runner-up at state. Last season, she was runner-up in the conference and won individual state titles. 

But her interest isn't limited to achieving both for her senior year. Loney still wants to help continue to build Van Buren's wrestling program for girls.

"I love all the girls," Loney said. "They're all learning so fast, and I sometimes feel like I have taken on the mother role for them.

"I don't even know what I want to do with the rest of my life, but I do know I want to wrestle in college. Hopefully, by the time I get ready for college, there will be. I just have to keep working and practicing so I'll be ready."

And that's really the key to it all: Being ready.

I used to think that downtime was just as important to the body as exercise. Sure, a day or two, but it shouldn't be weeks or a month because it'll allow bad habits to settle. I know, I haven't really worked out in almost a year and I'm in more of a round shape than I want.

I remember a conversation I had with former Alma coach Frank Vines. It was one of the best talks I had with a coach. We talked about all the changes that have taken place to athletes ready for a season. He said the two-a-days (practicing twice a day) were important to get the football players back in shape and condition.

If the players keep working out year-round, stay conditioned and keep improving in some way, does it matter if they concentrate on one sport or play multiple ones?

We've all seen those kids who play multiple sports do really well in all of them and have fun. There are also kids who play one sport and excel. 

There are both pros and cons to both. I'm of the mindset of whatever makes the kid happy and productive, just go with their instinct. I have no doubt there will be coaches and parents not happy if a kid misses or leaves a program to concentrate on a different one. However, if they keep excelling, working on their craft, does it really matter?