Whitehall-Coplay Press

Monday, May 27, 2019

Clark already working hard for senior season

Thursday, March 7, 2019 by Steve andres Special to the Press in Sports

Commitment and sacrifice are synonymous with success in any sport, but for those who spend six minutes on a wrestling mat, the level of dedication needed to get them to the top of their sport makes them a breed apart.

One can spend hours launching shots at a basket, running routes on a football field, or hitting in a cage, but in order to make it to the medal stand in wrestling while competing in District 11 means that you’re going to have to spend countless hours getting in peak physical condition, while also traveling to clubs and tournaments where you can further hone your skills. It’s a major investment of time, sweat and sacrifice.

“Wrestling takes up all or your time,” said Kai Clark with a laugh. “I’m looking to get a scholarship to college, that’s my goal.”

That’s why Clark will subject his body to the rigors of the sport, because he’s determined to find that success. He just competed at the District XI AAA Individual Wrestling Championships, and just missed making the regional round in the 5-6 match. With the 5-2 loss to Stroudsburg’s Andrew Schneider, his junior season was in the books.

For most scholastic athletes, that conclusion signifies the end of their season. Sure, most will do some lifting, or play in summer leagues or attend camps, but for wrestlers their offseason is almost as strenuous as their actual dual meet season.

For Clark and his fellow wrestlers who share his aspirations, it’s lifting in the weight room three days a week. That’s supplemented with open room wrestling on Wednesdays where they work on their skills.

Clark said the summer is filled with club wrestling and tournaments, the more the better, with each match a chance to learn and grow. He also said he plans to attend the Weaver Elite Wrestling Club at Bethlehem Catholic where the best of the best from across the Lehigh Valley and beyond converge in an environment that’s focused on helping them achieve their goals.

With all those elite wrestlers in one place, Clark said it’s a great opportunity to gain experience and knowledge from wrestlers who have made the trip to Hershey an annual event.

“I’m just hoping that a little bit of that rubs off on me and I can use it to my advantage,” said Clark.

Something that did rub off on his was a move that he saw Bo Nickal use while watching a Penn State match. Clark said he successfully unveiled it at the district tourney, hitting it a few times in his matches. He calls it a mat return, executing it when someone stands while he’s in control. Nickal may be the best scrambler in collegiate wrestling, a style that fits well into Clark’s skill set since he doesn’t mind getting into awkward situations.

He said that he likes to try new things, and that was something he did with no reservations at the biggest tournament of the season.

Clark said that the D-11 tourney was a good experience and he was pleased with how he performed.

“It was just a really fun tournament,” said Clark. “I went into every match with a clear mind, and just went into it like it was my last match. I wanted to give it my absolute all.”

He was upset about the final outcome since he missed the region tournament by three points, but he’s determined to extend his senior season further.

And he’s already begin that journey.