Marlborough High School wrestlers have come long way
By John Swinconeck, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – When Omar Vazquez and Erik Del Cid had their very first wrestling matches, things didn's go quite as planned. Both wound up losing, but they learned quickly from those early lessons.
“The coaches didn’t give up on me. They were always there to push and practice,” Del Cid said. “I remember looking back at old pictures of my first year of wrestling, and how scrawny I was … Technique was hard to get down, but once you start getting better and better, you feel like you can beat anybody.”
Now seniors, both Del Cid and Vazquez have come a long way, and have finished their high school wrestling careers with impressive records.
The 18-year-olds placed at State and All-State levels of competition, and Vazquez also competed in the New England regional competition. In the off-season, Del Cid won a match in a national competition held in South Carolina. That gave him confidence coming into his final high school season to finish 30-10.
“It's aggressive. It's tough. I did jujitsu before, and that's similar, but wrestling's tougher,” said Vazquez, who started wrestling as a junior, and finished his last high school season with a 34-6 record.
Del Cid, who has been wrestling since he was a freshman, said he got into the sport because it required discipline. Both said that wrestling takes not only strength, but also heart.
“You gotta love the sport,” Vazquez said. “Whenever you lose, you know you could have won. You gotta look forward, and not dwell on the past.”
It's a philosophy echoed by Del Cid: “Any time you lost, you know you had to work on something. There's always room for improvement, no matter what.”
Lasting a full six minutes on the mat is a challenge, and requires a lot of conditioning.
“That's tough on the body,” Vazquez said. “It's an all-out six minutes, and that's what kills you.”
Del Cid and Vazquez don’t limit their time on the mat to the regular high school season. Both are members of the Doughboy Wrestling Club in Lowell, where the two say they get to compete with the best – and the toughest high school wrestlers in Massachusetts.
Both said they plan on wrestling during their college careers, although they’re still deciding where to attend.
Neither is thrilled with the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) decision to nix the sport from the 2020 games. Considering that wrestling traces its roots back to the games of ancient Greece, it's puzzling to them why the IOC would eliminate a competition with such a long pedigree.
“It's the oldest sport in the Olympics. Why would you decide to just take that away?” Del Cid asked.
“People are still fighting to put it back in, and we support that,” Vazquez said.
Beyond the mat, the two take their places in the community seriously. Along with student athletes Mark Ney and Mike Bjorkman they took part in White Ribbon Day at the Marlborough City Hall March 7, where they pledged to be “part of the solution” in ending violence against women.
The pledge was to show the community that violence against women is a real problem, one that shouldn’t be allowed, according to Del Cid.
“Stuff like that can’t keep happening,” Vazquez said. “You got to do something about it.”
Both said they looked to Marlborough High School coach Mike Cassella as a mentor for providing them encouragement.
“Whenever the team wasn’t doing good, he's know we’d come through,” Del Cid said. “He still has hope, no matter what.”
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