This is part of a series of blogs from Noble campus representatives to give a deeper look at campus life.
Wrestling is regarded as the oldest sport in the world, but it’s a sport that is more niche and unknown among high school and college sports, especially in Chicago. Yet despite it being a less known sport here, many collegiate wrestlers competing at the national level are from the Chicagoland area. Out of 330 wrestlers in the 2021 NCAA National Championship, affectionately known as “March Matness”, 33 of those wrestlers were from Illinois, many of them originating from the Chicagoland area.
This kind of high performance doesn’t come out of nowhere. Despite the invisibility of the sport in Chicagoland high schools, several student wrestlers here are still bringing their hard work to the mat and walking away with medals – including students at Noble Schools. Some of the newest additions to Noble’s student wrestlers are coming from Golder College Prep.
Golder has normally been associated with soccer and rugby in the Noble League, but new sports programs have grown greatly under the leadership of of its Athletic Director, Josh Carpenter – especially the wrestling program, thanks also to the dedication of head wrestling coach, Kristofer Bryant.
“Wrestling is a wonderful sport and we hope to continue its growth within the Noble League. We are proud of the intentionality that Golder and Coach Bryant are putting into their student-athletes through wrestling,” said Jason Ronai, Noble Schools’ Senior Director of Health, Fitness, and Athletics, “We’ve had some success with wrestling within the league, most notably the state qualifying 2019 Comer wrestling team led by Coach Jamelle Williams. They have helped set the standard for other up-and-coming programs like Golder within the Noble League.”
The young Golder wrestling team started in the 2018-19 school year. It was, at first, a small club of five to seven students. But this year, the co-ed wrestling team boasted a 45-member team and solidified itself as the only sport at Golder that hosts events on-campus.
One of Golder's wrestlers, Jose, plays off against a UIC College Prep student at a Noble triangle game with UICCP, Golder, and Gary Comer College Prep.
In every year of Golder’s wrestling team, the Panthers have been competitive in the Noble League – with two runner-up honors and one 3rd place finish as a team. In this year’s Noble League competition, Golder had half of its team compete for 1st place. They took home three of the seven 1st place medals and finished second in the conference as a team. Half of their starting team also competed at the regional level, qualifying for IHSA Sectionals.
Showing the younger Panthers the ropes are Noble League Champions like Jubenal and Santiago. Jubenal has been wrestling since he was 8 years old, but the Golder wrestling team holds a special place in his heart.
“Joining the wrestling team my freshman year, I didn’t really know what to expect, especially since we had such a small group of people,” Jubenal said, “But I saw the vision that Coach Bryant had for the team, and I wanted to be a part of that.”
In his second year as captain, Jubenal stepped up his leadership skills by being phenomenal technique demonstrator. Duing our NL Round Robin this year, Jubenal would coach his teammates when Coach Bryant was coaching another mat.
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Jubenal heading off the mat after a round against a UICCP student.
“I’ve come to realize that my duration with the team has been the best experience in my life. We have become brothers when we didn’t know each other to begin with,” Jubenal said.
Santiago added, “ The wrestling team has become a big part of my life and I wanna continue to wrestle going into adulthood and even past that. Wrestling kept me off the street, and it surrounded me with great people.”
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Santiago gets ready for a round.
The hardworking mentality and demands of wrestling has also rubbed off on our football and powerlifting teams as well. Many students do all three to support their athletic goals.
“Wrestling and Powerlifting gave me opportunities I didn’t know I had,” said Selena, a junior on both the wrestling and powerlifting teams, “I got to experience new things, like being able to compete against others in something I’m passionate about.”