The Muscatine High School (MHS) wrestling team has gotten off to a strong start this season. Currently, the varsity team’s dual record stands at 5-3, and the team has participated in several competitions. Among their highlights so far, Brennan Broders defeated former state champion and current fifth ranked in his weight class Jack Neuhaus, at the West Delaware Invitational. Broders also won his weight class overall at the meet. As a team, the Muskie varsity wrestlers placed third out of seventeen teams at the Fort Madison Invitational and seventh out of seventeen teams at the Mount Vernon Invitational. Joe Kane, the MHS varsity wrestling team’s coach credits their success so far to the team’s good work ethic during practices and strong leadership. He elaborated, “Before this season even began, the Muscatine wrestlers had a very productive off-season by attending many camps, clinics, tournaments, and open mat workouts. This season, what has [worked] especially well is the attitude during training. The leadership from Brennan Broders, Shane Mathias, Dalton Sell, and Brandon Bryant has launched this team to a new level.” Kane also believes his team’s focus on competing like champions has given them an extra edge. “The whole team is training with an appetite, supporting each other, and looking to do the extra things that champions do.” With such a firm foundation, the MHS wrestlers certainly appear poised to make a name for themselves this season. To capitalize on his team’s strengths and push them to do their very best, Kane has set high goals for his team. He aims to make sure that the varsity team maintains their winning dual record throughout the season, qualifies for dual regionals as a team, sends two or more student athletes to the state tournament, and places at least one team member in the top three at state. In addition to motivating his team to succeed on the mat, Kane has personal goals for his wrestlers too. He shared that he works with his team to make them, “accountable in all areas of life—wrestling, school, family, friends, and work. We want to be exceptional in all we do in order to be the best wrestlers, athletes, and people we can be.” As an experienced coach, Kane knows many techniques for helping his team succeed in all areas of their lives. This year, he has a new tool to help his wrestlers excel–yoga. As part of a district-wide initiative to help students of all ages develop mindfulness, self-awareness, and good mental and physical health, Muscatine Community School District (MCSD) hired yoga instructor Allison Phelps to teach yoga classes in all their schools. Recently, Kane had his team begin participating in yoga sessions with Phelps to help develop their skills in ways they never had before. Kane did research on the connections between yoga and wrestling and found a lot of evidence supporting its use as a training strategy. “Yoga is a proven cross training strategy embraced by the best wrestlers in the USA, including our Olympic athletes. Yoga teaches balance, core strength, flexibility, focus, breathing, and meditation. Yoga identifies weaker muscle groups to help build stability, prevent injuries, and enhance full body wellness.” In particular, Kane considers learning yoga postures an excellent way for his team to improve their balance and ability to hold and transition between wrestling positions. “Yoga and wrestling have many transferable skills, such as positioning. In both, there is a pursuit of holding perfect position, recovering to perfect position when you lose your balance, and flowing or transitioning from one perfect position to the next.” Additionally, yoga helps with mental focus and stress relief, which can help wrestlers achieve their goals in other areas of their lives. So far, Kane has found Phelps’s yoga sessions helpful for his team, and that his wrestlers have come to enjoy them. “The team was apprehensive at first, but they have quickly realized the benefits and advantages to yoga. They have embraced the yoga sessions and now look forward to them. I think the benefits of our yoga sessions are already showing up on the mat when we perform.” While wrestling and yoga may seem like very different mat activities, the MHS varsity wrestlers have found that they complement each other and help them achieve at their highest level. As the winter continues, fans throughout the community will enjoy seeing how the wrestlers’ yoga and other training will help them continue to attain their goals all season long.
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