Band of brothers: Seniors lead wrestling team to state after four years of hard work, dedication

Kaywin McCall

In high school sports, thousands of athletes strive toward the goal of being the best. The reality is, only a few can achieve top honors as head-to-head competition separates the wheat from the chaff. This year’s boys wrestling team came together as a single unit to work toward a single goal – being the best wrestling program in Bryan High history as well as the best program in the state.

This season, the team worked 24-7 and won 5 out of the 6 tournaments they competed in while placing 5th at state along with an individual state champion and a bronze medal finisher. The team had the best record in Bryan wrestling history and look to pass on a legacy of excellence to the next generation of wrestlers as they graduate eight seniors this year.

“The senior boys are like my brothers,” senior Monyell Nuttall said. “Wrestling is more than a sport, it’s a way of life. It feels like you’re wrestling with a family.”

Wrestling is a sport that pushes athletes to become better as students, people, athletes, and to help reach student’s potential.

“Wrestling has meant everything to me throughout high school,” senior team co-captain Larry Duron said. “Wrestling drove me to better myself and become the best version of myself. Without wrestling, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. It taught me to push my body when I felt exhausted knowing it would pay off in a tournament or duel.”

The team bond runs deep as countless hours of hard work took place together for the senior boys to do something that has never been done before.

“The bond between the upperclassmen was a connection that not many can understand unless they were a part of it,” senior team co-captain David Frazier said. “We went through some hard practices and even rougher tournaments together. From running the stadium in the humid weather during preseason to getting ready for state, nothing was better than standing on the podium with my boys at state. As long as my team won, I won. It feels good knowing I was able to contribute to a championship-caliber team.”

Frazier appreciates his time within the wrestling program and recognizes that it helped him establish goals and then follow through to work towards and achieving them.

“One of the memories that will stay with me forever is the team winning almost all regular season tournaments, districts, regionals, and state meant a lot to me,” Frazier said. “Last year after the season ended, we knew were going to return with a great team. We had legendary potential; potential to be the greatest Bryan wrestling squad of all time, and I believe we have achieved that.”

The little moments of the day-to-day are what is remembered when students graduate, the tournaments, the meals together, and the fellowship with one another is what will be remembered the most.

“My favorite part of wrestling in high school has been the comradery and feeling of being a part of something bigger than yourself,” Frazier said. “Some of my favorite memories consist of the bus rides home after winning a tournament and stopping to eat at a buffet and everyone being in such a good mood. Being with everyone in those moments were the best, whether I won or lost.”

Each of the seniors recognize that nothing is ever merely handed to them, but instead they must work hard and put in the effort to achieve their goals.

“My favorite part of wrestling is working hard all through the week, and then seeing the outcome on the mat at duals and tournaments,” senior Andres Gonzalez said. “Leaving with some medals around my neck or a win for Bryan always made me feel proud.”

Wrestling coach Michael Zito always had high expectations for this group of seniors as they moved through the program over the past four years. He saw potential in them each step of the way and did everything he could to prepare them as athletes.

“Winning the district and regional tournament this season is always a great marker for the program in that is the one thing is Texas high school sports that is consistent from sport to sport,” Zito said. “After all is said and done, the team can look back and see we had an awesome season this year and we left nothing up to chance. Now the seniors can move on with the memories and medals of a great season.”

Nuttall won the state championship in the 182 weight class, despite it only being his second season in wrestling and coming right out of football.

“Walking into the Berry Center and seeing the mats on the floor and everything set up, I couldn’t believe that I had made it to state,” Nuttall said. “It feels surreal to have won the state championship. It felt like I just walked into the state meet and wrestled like I had at every other tournament and came out a champ. It feels great.”

Leadership is essential in any program; younger athletes need role models and someone to look up to on and off of the mat.

“As in any sport, seniors plays a big role,” Zito said. “Not only it is their final year to shine, they are, whether they like it or not, the role models and examples that the younger students and athletes watch and want to be someday.”

This year the team graduates eight seniors, so next year will be a year for re-building the program, and junior Jamarcus Thomas who placed 5th at state as a sophomore, and 3rd at state this year as a junior looks to do just that as he continues to strive for more and progress.

“My goals next year is to win state, be undefeated, and be the best wrestler to go through Bryan High,” Thomas said. “I will be a captain and a role model for everyone on the team as being the only one on the allstate team and one of the only seniors.”

The wrestling program has enjoyed many years of success under Zito and the boys are happy to be able to contribute another year of excellence to the legacy of Viking wrestling.

“Being able to get Coach Zito more banners and trophies brought immense pride in us seniors,” Frazier said. “We paved the way for some great wrestlers to come in the future and have instilled our legacy into Bryan wrestling.”