Article By: Konstantin Meyer Zu Brickwedde
Photo by Mr. Matthew Krcelic
The Titans wrestling team ended their 2017-18 season winning the Kanto Plain Tournament and the Knights Invitational and placing runner up for Kanto League, Far East Individual and Dual tournament. Coach Yabui of Titans wrestling team feels that even though this was his “worst season”, it was still a successful one: “This was my first year as head coach not to bring home a Far East title.” This season, the Titans had been competing to be the first ever school to win five consecutive Far East titles. Though this feat was not accomplished, Coach Yabui was still proud of all the wrestlers for placing second at Far East and having a successful season overall . He also mentioned that losing was disappointing, but was also relieved to know what it feels like to not come back with a Far East title. One of the highlights of the season was the Titans beating Kinnick to win the Kanto tournament. Coach Yabui was also really proud of Eiji Kasahara (108 pounds) and Alex Patton (180 pounds) for winning their first Far East individual gold medals. He then added the best highlight was the fighting spirit shown by the team during their Far East Dual finals in which they defeated two Kinnick’s Far East champions and showed a lot of passion.
With this season finished, Coach Yabui is already looking forward to the new dynamic of the upcoming season. The 2018 Far East champions, Kinnick, have many seniors leaving this year, and Coach Yabui feels this situation will make for a more competitive championship. Coach Yabui is also looking forward to Kubasaki, who he feels could challenge for the Far East title. He hopes that all the new competition will “even the playing field”, although it may lead to a very unpredictable season. For the Titans, there are many juniors, sophomores, and freshmen who are tough wrestlers and could help take back the Far East titles. All these factors will provide close and more entertaining matches.
With so many dedicated parents and alumni supporting the wrestling program at St. Mary’s, it is one of the best programs in the Far East. These parents not only provided fan support at meets but also supplied food after practices. This past season there was also a former Israeli national team wrestler, Coach Moshe, who helped the team and Coach Yabui and assisted the team to quickly learn new skills, so currently the internal structure is already excellent.
For Titans Wrestling to improve further, however, it will need to address some external factors first. For one thing Coach Yabui wants to monitor the wrestlers more closely, making sure everyone is coming to practice and improving. He also wants to have more consistency with practices. He felt that this season the practices had to change locations too often, saying “Wrestling is already a hard sport, but it gets harder when you have to worry about where you are practicing the next day.” Lastly, Coach Yabui feels that increasing the number of students who make it to the end of the season is key to improving Titans Wrestling. This year only two rookies wrestled the whole season. This situation is really different compared to when Coach Yabui was wrestling. During his time, he said, there were “guys who didn’t come out the next season, but no one would quit in the middle or towards the end of a season.” Leaving the program disrupts the effectiveness of practice because both Coach Yabui’s and the team’s time spent improving that wrestler is be wasted. It also does not build quality wrestlers in the future.
Coach Yabui wants anyone who is thinking about joining the team next year to remember that “it is a tough sport where you will grind, literally with blood, sweat, and tears.” It is a really hard sport to understand, but if a wrestler stays with the sport for the full four years in high school, he will come out as a better person with high levels of discipline, endurance, resilience, respect, humility, work ethic, pride, and compassion.