Two state athletes create a stronger team all around for wrestling

This past February, the wrestling team made C-G proud down state. With two state placers and our first-ever state champion, C-G wrestling made its mark in its conference and in Cary-Grove history.

“It’s a long road,” Coach Ludwig said about preparing for the state tournament. “It starts once the last season ends.”

Michael Gomez, who placed 6th, said that his preparations for the State tournament were one of the “hardest things [he’s] ever had to do. I did a lot of ‘Hell-type’ stuff, like conditioning and what not. It was the hardest thing I’ve had to do as far as training and lifting and conditioning go.”

Michael Cullen took first place that weekend, and Coach Ludwig said that the payoff goes beyond his individual achievement.

“The best part of it is that kids know what they have to do to reach that level,” he said. “They were in the same room as a state champ. Not a lot of teams can say that they had a state champ practicing in their room last year, so I can already see a difference in some of our kids in the way they train and the way they focus.”

Having two placers this season was a huge benefit to the future, if nothing else.

“It kind of raises the bar,” Coach Ludwig said. “People have pretty high expectations for the program and people want to see [success] again. They don’t want to wait another 53 years.”

As for the road to state, Gomez says that his goals going down there were “just to do what I’d been doing all year and stay positive because a lot of times I get very negative on myself. If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you can’t. You have to stay positive, especially with wrestling. It’s all you and such an individual sport.”

Coach Ludwig disagrees with Gomez on that point, however.

“It is an individual sport at times, but it is really a team sport,” he said. “I feel like it’s almost more of a team sport than an individual one because, number one, you can’t practice alone. You need people to practice with. I think that’s one of the reasons Michael [Cullen] was a state champion this year. There were a lot of guys in the room committed, pushing him to that next level. Michael Altendorf who, at the end of the season wasn’t even in our lineup, his goal was to get Michael Cullen to become a state champ. He achieved his goal. I think people miss out on that sometimes. When they think about wrestling they don’t think about all the other people it took to get that wrestler to that point. There were a lot [of people] that really pushed Michael Cullen and Michael Gomez.”

The team did whatever they could to get their teammates down state and placing.

“A lot of the guys that ended up pushing Michael Gomez at the end of the season were a lot smaller than him, but they would rotate in and they would do whatever they could to help him be successful and it paid off,” Coach Ludwig said. “I think that’s the biggest thing. Yeah, it’s two guys’ names that go up on the wall in the wrestling room, but you wish you could put the other kids on the team that put in the time and were tough in the room for them.”