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Camaraderie, commitment fuel the 2023/24 Ram’s wrestling season

Photo courtesy Braeden Baller
Braeden Baller, junior general business and finance major, reflects on the dedication necessary to win matches.

The Rams wrestling team powered through a season filled with success, dedication and morning practices. A season that saw the women’s team win a Sooner Athletic Conference (SAC) Championship and see multiple students, on the men and women’s team, win SAC wrestler of the week.  

Before the season began, head coach Jose Lazo and the coaching staff took the time to watch film and contact recruits to not only see whether they were the right fit for the team but to establish a personal relationship with them.  

“For us it’s always about making sure the athlete is the right fit for us and that we are the right fit for the athlete,” Lazo said. “I think this is one of our larger recruiting classes… and I think one of our largest teams as well.” 

 With strong leadership and a good team culture, individual wrestlers had their own expectations in mind, but shared one common goal… to win medals.  

Though many were focused on winning and wrestling, senior business management and accounting major Dominic Chavez initially had no plans to wrestle this season.  

“To be honest, I wasn’t planning on wrestling at all,” Chavez said. “What made me want to do wrestling again… it was because of the coaches.”  

Many mornings at 5:30 a.m., wrestlers like junior general business and finance major Braeden Baller woke up for practice that began at 6 a.m. Once at practice, the team did warmups and depending on the day of the week, the team either worked on move techniques or did live wrestling with their weight class partners.  

“[Balancing school and practice] can definitely get exhausting,” Baller said. 

Attending the morning practices was just a part of what the students had to do to make sure they achieved their goals.  

“Being committed,” Baller said. “If you have that mindset of just to show up and perform, [winning a medal] is not going to happen.”  

Senior marketing major Mea Mohler said the team used camaraderie to their advantage.  

“We just lift each other up and try to hold each other accountable, and have fun with it,” Mohler said.  

Their camaraderie and dedication to the sport were shown whenever they performed. Before a tournament, Lazo reminded his team to remember their fundamentals and that the team has their back no matter the outcome of a match. Even when wrestlers had sustained injuries throughout the year, they were encouraged to still make the practices to support their teammates and do whatever they can to get back on the mat.  

Success looked different for everyone on the team. While Baller went undefeated in NAIA matches and Chavez won SAC wrestler of the week in Jan. 2024, Mohler overcame her fear of being able to finish her shots. This helped her during her quarterfinals match against Bella Amaro.  

“I lost that match, but I learned so much from it,” Mohler said. “I took a shot in on her, and I’ve never been able to finish my shots in on her… that was the moment where it clicked for me.” 

With the season over and next year already on the team’s mind, Lazo said the Rams are set out to prove people wrong and make another push at a national title. For a message to the new incoming freshmen wrestlers for 2024, Lazo kept it simple. 

“Get ready to strap those boots on,” Lazo said. “We’re gonna go to work and chase down titles.”  

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About the Contributor
Thomas Parsons
Thomas Parsons, Content Producer
Thomas Parsons III is an undergraduate at Texas Wesleyan University. Thomas is currently pursuing a sports communication degree and has a dedication to covering stories. When it comes to work, he is committed to making sure the job is done and done well.

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