(Sergeant Bluff, IA.) – If you’re looking for a typical high school wrestler, you won’t find him. You won’t find him because wrestlers are all different. There aren’t two alike, anywhere. Think of fingerprints… no two are alike.
Isaac Bryan, like all wrestlers, has his own style, his own strengths, his own moves. He works with what he’s been blessed with by training year-around. Aside from camps (University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the Great Lakes Camp, Okoboji, IA) during the summer, Isaac can be found working out in the Sergeant Bluff-Luton weight room Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, and he’s also on the Warrior cross-country team.
The son of Dave and Erin Bryan, Isaac holds the 138-pound spot on SB-L’s squad. At that weight, he qualified for State twice – the first time as a freshman, and last season as a sophomore where he came in eighth. He feels 138 is a good weight for him and he plans on wrestling in that weight class this coming season.
He also works part-time, earning money for essentials. He’s also a student, so he has his studies and classwork as part of his agenda. He also has his chores to perform at home. He has good friends. All of this means he is not free to just wrestle. It’s called life.
Isaac has been wrestling as long as he can remember. (How about since kindergarten?) “I think it’s very important to start wrestling as early as possible. Yes,” he continued, “you can have success if you start later, but when you start younger, you learn from your training, plus you develop and become better.”
It’s a long road, he said, and all along that path you learn more and more.
There’s the regular season that starts in late November and goes until February, leading into Sectionals, Regionals, Districts and ultimately State.
“The competition gets tougher the higher up the ladder you go,” Bryan, a junior, said. He said that what he learned from last season is that he had to get stronger and faster if he hopes to advance further on the State championship podium.
“As a wrestler with a hope and desire to reach the top, you have to keep in mind that your opponent – the guy with the drive and determination like yours -- is doing the same thing. That’s why you can’t tell yourself good is good enough,” Isaac said.
Which brings up another point: Wrestling is a community of wrestlers. Everyone knows about everyone else. You’ve either wrestled, met, or watched other wrestlers.
“It goes back over the years. I know quite a few wrestlers that I either wrestled in my early years or went to wrestling camps with them at one time or another, or just all-around competition along the way. A lot of years, a lot of wrestlers. So, yea, you get to know quite a few other wrestlers.”
Isaac said there’s no easy way to the top, and all wrestlers who aspire to do so know this.
“You have to work hard with the thought of becoming the best. That means continuous training – hitting the wrestling room, weight training, running, and nutrition.”
The latter, he said, includes training your mind as well. “No one wants to lose, and losing isn’t at all fun. In wrestling, it’s tough. It’s just you and your opponent. It’s all on you. So if you make a mistake, say, in a close match, it can be the difference between winning and losing.”
“In every match, you learn something either about yourself or from your opponent.” Isaac continued. “Technique, working on moves, is so important in wrestling. You’ve got to train until a move is instinctive. One opponent may be a leg rider, so it’s critical to know techniques to neutralize his moves. Also, it’s just as important to know what to do to counter a strong top or bottom wrestler.”
Bryan said that to perfect a move or countermove takes time and patience. It’s repeating a move over and over again.
Then there’s the speed factor. In wrestling, he said, the latter is two fold. You need stamina and the endurance that goes with it, and you need to work on your speed – usually after wrestling practice is completed – through stance and motion, and foot-fire. It’s grueling, but essential.
There’s plenty more to being a wrestler, and Isaac said he loves all of it. To reach his goals and be fully prepared for the sport’s beginning in late November, his training this summer no doubt will take him onward and upward through the mat wars.