The calm before the storm: Sam Patton and the wrestling team’s preseason routine

The wrestling team’s preseason practices rival the intensity of their matches

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Photo of wrestler Sam Patton holding his opponents leg mid-competition.
PHOTO: Paul Yates / SFU Athletics

By: Simran Sarai, Sports Writer

September has been a busy month for many SFU athletic teams with competitions coinciding with the start of the academic school year. However, there are some teams that have yet to compete this fall semester, like men’s wrestling. The Peak set out to learn more about what a typical training day looks like with junior Sam Patton. He said the team starts with a morning run — of course, a morning run for an athlete means something entirely more taxing than a scenic jog. 

“Usually we’ll start with a morning team run, we’ll run the trails. We’re lucky, being on the mountain, because the trail runs sort of simulate a match, with all the ups and downs. It works the lungs.” These morning jogs are just the preface to the day of practice that follows. “After the run, we’ll have an afternoon wrestling session,” Patton said. “On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, it’s a hard practice. They basically kick us into shape.”

What does a hard wrestling practice during preseason look like? Well, it begins with a “dynamic warm-up for 10 minutes.” From there, the team launches into some light prep work as teammates pair off to practice moves before heading into drills. One important aspect of training the team focuses on is preparing themselves for scenarios they might encounter in competitions. Similar to live wrestling, Patton describes this as a “simulated game.”

These types of practices are designed to overload an athlete to the point of feeling a little burned out, testing both their physical and mental ceiling. “It’s a hard practice, but it’s rewarding once you get through it,” Patton said. After a gruelling day of work, what do wrestlers get to look forward to the next day? Training. “Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, we’re in the weightroom lifting. Tuesday and Thursday mornings, we’re wrestling.” says Patton. Not to worry, the team gets a rest day on Sunday, an entire week after workouts.

With such a rigorous practice schedule, one might wonder what else these athletes could possibly fit into their schedule. On top of maintaining physical fitness, wrestlers have to stay motivated, mentally prepared, and up to date with coursework, while they wait for the season to kick off in November. Once the season does start, it runs all the way into March, occupying both the fall and spring academic semesters. “We really try and preach to the younger guys on the team to get ahead in your classes while we’re not on the road every weekend, and we’re not cutting weight,” Patton explained.

He uses the closeness of the men’s wrestling team as motivation to get through a tough practice at the end of a long week. “I’d say we’re a pretty tight-knit team,” Patton said. When they aren’t training together, they’re hanging out. “It makes it a lot easier when you have a close team and the guys are all fun to be around.” Patton added they often “watch [a] UFC fight or go out for wings.”

As much as the majority of the preseason is team-based, personal reflection heading into the season is also required. For Patton, this means a combination of things. “Personally, I do short-term goal setting, long-term goal setting, what I want out of the season as a whole, and what I want to take away from each practice or take away from each week.” While he has personal milestones lined up, Patton focuses on one thing come game time: visualizing. “If I hopefully end up in a big match, I’ve gone through that in my head multiple times, and it’s no surprise.” 

With just over a month of preseason remaining, Patton and his teammates feel like this year, luck is on their side. “There’s a few really talented individuals, who were either unlucky with injuries last year, or just didn’t quite have the showing they wanted at regionals. I think the team’s hungry. We’re gonna really attack the season, and I think we’re gonna see the results this year.”