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Brodie Sullivan has only wrestled since his sophomore year of high school.
Yet the St. Joseph-Ogden senior is a veteran on the Spartans’ wrestling team this season.
And he can quickly disprove, based on his experiences, this common misperception of the sport: it’s just individuals competing.
“Even though you are out there alone on the mat with your opponent,” Sullivan said, “you have a team behind you pushing you to do better in both practice and in meets.”
Sullivan will get one last postseason push to continue his rapid improvement this Saturday when SJO hosts a Class 1A regional meet.
But when Sullivan entered high school, he didn’t realize his athletic career would steer him towards wrestling.
Sullivan was urged to try the sport by SJO football coach Shawn Skinner and like many that have traveled that same path, thinks the sport has helped him in football.
“I’m really glad (Skinner) convinced me to try wrestling because it has made me stronger and helped me on the football field,” Sullivan said. “It’s also nice being relatively new to the sport that there are others on the team that have been wrestling for much longer to teach me pointers here and there that help me be more successful on the mats.”
Sullivan held a varsity position from the start, something that normally doesn’t happen to someone that is new to the sport. But the experience that Sullivan received as a result of being thrust into the lineup so early in his career has paid dividends.
“I may have gotten two wins my first year,” Sullivan said. “Then my junior year I may have been a .500 wrestler, and last year I wrestled between the 160 and 170 weight classes with an incoming junior that also was in his first year, so we alternated between classes, with me being able to help him out much like I was instructed when I was new.”
The way this year’s SJO team is comprised of, there are a few weight classes that do not have anybody competing on a week to week basis, while other classes have multiple wrestlers to choose from. But one constant has been the presence of Sullivan in the upper weight classes at 182 and 195.
Now a veteran of the sport, Sullivan can attest that seeing someone come into the program that has never wrestled before can benefit, progress and make a mark on the mats.
“Some of us that have been wrestling for a few years can take someone that is maybe doing it for the first time and know what will work for them and what won’t,” Sullivan said. “We were there once ourselves, so we know how to give instruction here and there to make them better and get them in the win column on a more regular basis.”