SPRINGFIELD — As the Effingham County wrestling team prepares for the area duals, it isn’t letting their youth and inexperience deter it from contending against stiff competition.
Rebels head Nico Guggino said his wrestlers have to take down a strong Brunswick team but a win over favorite Richmond Hill would be even sweeter.
"The teams in our area are all good teams," Guggino said. "Richmond Hill is the best one. They are an older team. They have a lot of juniors and seniors, and Brunswick is right behind them.
“We have to figure out how to knock off Brunswick. That is our goal right now."
Guggino pointed out the Rebels possess a laid-back attitude. He is enjoying their calm demeanor but added that they are a scrappy bunch that knows how to work hard.
"This is a special group,” Guggino said. “We have fun at matches and in practice. In the past, we’ve had really good teams where there was more pressure to win because of the experience we’ve had.
“This year, we are young and know we may not win a title this year but they are more relaxed. For some reason, they have fun as well and it makes things a lot easier for everyone."
Effingham County will have to wrestle smart Friday against Brunswick and Richmond Hill.
"I think our younger guys have gotten a lot better since the start of the season," Guggino said. "They’ve put in the time and effort to get better. The only problem is they are still young. Some of those guys are going to be competing against juniors and seniors.
“There is no room for error."
Day in and day out, Guggino tells his team how good it can be and that one’s class doesn’t determine the outcome of a match.
"You have to build them up throughout the whole year,” the coach said. “As they wrestle older kids at different schools, they’ll learn being a senior isn’t always the reason you’ll get better.
“You have to learn how to outwrestle the guy."
Guggino said he believes he has a proud bunch of guys who understand Effingham County's rich tradition of wrestling.
"Usually, the ones that don’t have a lot of pride in what we do don’t stick it out," Guggino said. "It’s a tough sport. You have to want to wrestle and take pride in what you do."
Guggino describes the area duals as a chess game.
"The guys that are older on the team, they understand how things work," Guggino said. "What we are trying to do right now is beat Brunswick first. If we do that, we’ll qualify and then pulling off the upset against Richmond Hill would be nice. We have to win by pins. If you pin someone, you get more points. The older guys know they need to win by pin.
“Our kids that are outmatched can’t get pinned."