BLS Wrestling Gets in the Zone


Eric Power (II) faces his opponent at a meet. (Source: Preston Musoke (II))

By Jessica Li (II), Contributing Writer

After a few years of practices, meets and tournaments riddled with COVID-19 restrictions, Boston Latin School wrestling is finally back to normal. 

What has changed? How is the season going? Let’s jump into an update on the BLS wrestling team.

Led by Coach Jeffrey Gibbons and captains David Santana (I), Henry Stratman (I), Alex Greene Barrios (II), Graeme Dierks (II) and Eric Power (II), the BLS varsity wrestling team’s scoreboard is at 7-6, similar to last year.

In a large blowout, BLS dominated Josiah Quincy Upper School 60-3. BLS also took down Westford Academy 48-36. The outcome of the meet was much closer, with a win-difference of only three or four matches. The fact that Westford was also in Dual County League Large made the win even more meaningful. 

“I’d say we’re a good team, and we’ve certainly gotten unlucky a few times this season,” Greene Barrios states. “Even though we’re still doing well, I think we’re a better team than our record shows.”

Indeed, the BLS varsity wrestling team is formidable. At the 42nd annual Dan Balboni Holiday Classic tournament, great efforts from the team resulted in an impressive performance. Boston Latin School placed fifth out of 22 teams; four BLS wrestlers accumulated 128.5 points to make it to the semifinals.

Their loss against Boston College High School, however, was a huge upset. With only seven points designating BC High as the victors, the score of 36-43 was devastating.

“The team is more focused now,” shares four-year varsity wrestler Oscar Ali (II). “We’ve been working harder, trying to get better as much as possible.”

This willingness to improve is backed by fierce dedication. In the daily two-hour practices after school, the wrestlers brush up on technique, run drills and spar in mini games. In the days leading up to meets, practices increase in intensity. Sometimes, to get to know other wrestlers in the area, the BLS team will have joint practices with Boston Latin Academy, Roxbury Latin School and Excel Academy wrestling teams.

Most notably, the wrestlers continued a 15-year long tradition with the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Blue Hills run. During an exhausting 3.5-mile run up and down the Blue Hills in Norfolk County, the team battles elevation changes, slippery snow and the biting cold. The demanding practice also includes wrestling drills in the snow, ending their long weekend with arduous physical activity.

Several new changes impacted this year’s season. With most COVID-19 restrictions on sports gone, the transition back to normalcy has come with the lifting of mask requirements.

New changes came in the off-season. For the first time in BLS wrestling history, captains’ practices were organized. “We’ve had some wrestlers do off-season wrestling in the past, but this year we’ve had more than ever,” Greene Barrios explains. “Combined with captains’ practices, which is a new thing for our team, our guys were coming into the season more caught up, and we avoided some of that early season rust that has plagued us in the past.” 

Besides improving on skills, captains’ practices also help the wrestling team with exposure, bringing many new faces to the team. First-year wrestler Nick Seaver (II) explains the impact of captains’ practice on his introduction to scholastic wrestling, saying, “Captains’ practices were cool because it let us ease into the regular season, which might have been overwhelming otherwise. A couple of sixies’ first-ever practice was captains’ practice.”

The younger kids’ efforts have been outstanding. With only one person per weight class, the varsity starting roster is constantly shifting. Injuries have opened the opportunity for spots, allowing seventh- and eighth-grade wrestlers to shine. Members of the team are excited about the JV talent.

Reflecting on the success of younger wrestlers, Ali is a big advocate for having new people try out wrestling. “I’d definitely advise people to join wrestling; it’s fun, it’s a great way to stay active,” Ali says. “If you’re not good at some other traditional sports, I know that’s why some of us join wrestling, wrestling is a great sport, and there’s a very good culture.”

 Even with the season coming to its end, the BLS wrestling team continues to make progress and work as hard as ever. On February 1, they will face BLA in an annual meet. The team welcomes spectators; to see the match, follow the BLS wrestling’s Instagram account, @bls.wrestling, to find the exact time and location, as well as further updates on the terrific season!