RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond’s Armstrong High School wrestling team is turning heads, according to coach Cezar Carvalhaes.
“We’ve been doing really well, we’ve been turning heads everywhere we go,” he said. “I get referees coming up to me and saying, ‘wow you guys are really doing stuff for the program.'”
Although the program is making strides, a lack of participation still costs them results.
“We’ve shown up some days and we’ll take about five or six wrestlers to a tournament, all five guys will go on undefeated, and then we still lose because we only have five (wrestlers),” said Carvalhaes, who explained that ideally a wrestling team would have some 14 wrestlers on the roster to compete in the various weight classes.
According to the coach, unlike other communities, Richmond does not have a feeder program into wrestling, so many of his athletes have never wrestled before high school. So, Carvalhaes wants to send members of his wrestling team to a wrestling camp at the University ofVirginia in July.
“They go in and they wake up in the morning, they go for a jog, they eat breakfast, they wrestle for three hours, they shower, they eat lunch, they wrestle for three hours, they come back in, they shower eat dinner and then they wrestle for a couple more hours,” the coach said.
But Carvalhaes said the students gain something much more than wrestling at the camp: Being exposed to college athletes and coaches.
“We want our students and our wrestlers to have this goal of going to college, going to a four-year university, especially a flagship university like the University of Virginia, you can see it all, you get that college life,” Carvalhaes said. “Like wow, that’s what college is like.”
Sophomore Andre Jackson said for him, wrestling is a new experience.
“I wasn’t that athletic, I was just used to playing sports with friends,” he said.
Jackson said going to camp at UVA makes sense to him and he hopes one day wrestling will help him earn a college scholarship.
“Well, there’s probably a lot of wrestling scholarships out there I can get, not a lot of people wrestle at Armstrong, so there’s only six people you can look at,” he said. “I’ve never been (to UVA) so I would like to go to the campus to see how it is. Also wrestling camp, I like wrestling, I like camps, put them together it should be fun.”
Junior Josh Crawford has only been wrestling a few years; he wanted to try something different than basketball. Crawford recalls initially he did not know if he wanted until to stay with wrestling, but one match gave him a change of heart.
“Once I got to my first scrimmage and I had to wrestle this big dude and he kept smacking me in my face and I was like you know what forget it, and I just ended up doing a double leg and that’s what I had mastered at first,” he recalled. “That was the first move that I’ve mastered and I took him off the mat.”
Crawford won’t hesitate to let anyone know he is a good wrestler and is excited about the possibility of going to camp at UVA; he went last year and he said the camp made him a better wrestler and a much better person.
“I want to make it out, I want to be able to do stuff for family, friends that need,” he said. “Even if this were academics or sports, I’m going to go ahead and chase my dream and make it come true.”
If you would like to help Armstrong wrestlers attend the camp, click here.