Sidwell Wrestling Future Looks Bright on Heels of 2023 Wins

This year, Sidwell wrestling had a successful breakout season. At the DCSAA State Tournament, the team had a first-place finalist, two second-place finalists, and one third. Meanwhile, at the Montgomery Blair Girls Tournament, sophomore Ilaria Luna received first place. DCSAA also hosted its first-ever Women’s Wrestling Tournament, where the Sidwell girls’ team went 9-3 with junior Sune Hamparian placing first, sophomores Florence Waiters and Emily Klein taking second and sophomore Ilaria Luna claiming third. The team also has three new champions at the recent MAC tournament: sophomores Luke Borkowski and Jack Rosenstein and freshman Isaac Jain.

Sidwell also recently hosted its wrestling invitational, a smaller tournament held annually at the beginning of winter break, which raises money for the wrestling program.

“It was amazing to finally be able to host the tournament again since before the pandemic, and it’s such a different atmosphere wrestling on the court instead of in the wrestling room,” Luna said. “The turnout was great, and having so many people there supporting us on our home turf was really special,” she added.

However, the turnout of female wrestlers for the women’s sector was low due to limited advertising. Next year, the team hopes to increase publicity for the women’s category, making it more equal.

In preparation for these tournaments, Luna explained that wrestlers trained hard in practice, pushed themselves in the weight room and had a sound game plan for their matches.

“From day-to-day, the wrestling program and practices are very structured and organized,” Luna said. The team views their daily routine of stretching and conditioning as a great way to build community. Practices alternate between focusing on technique, conditioning or practical wrestling.

Another component of the team’s success is its sense of community and strong will to learn from each other. The supportive and motivating team dynamic plays a large factor in the success of the wrestlers.

“I am so proud of how hard dedicated everyone is to the team,” Luna said. “Whether it is putting in the work at practice or coming to support at tournaments despite injuries and busy schedules, we have formed such a great atmosphere that I hope will last as long as wrestling continues to be a sport at Sidwell,”she added.

The coaches have also played a pivotal role in the team’s development. Luna shared the coaches are one of the main reasons she continues to wrestle at Sidwell.

”While they are a big help in terms of the techniques, they also greatly assist us with the mental aspect of wrestling,” Klein added.

A crucial aspect of the wrestling team’s development has been the growth of the women’s program.

We have formed such a great atmosphere that I hope will last as long as wrestling continues to be a sport at Sidwell.

— Ilaria Luna '25

“Our women’s team is growing every year, and I think we are learning so much from each other as well as from the guys on how to navigate the sport and keep improving,” Luna said.

Women have been wrestling for Sidwell on-and-off since the late 1990s, and Coach Josh Markey attributes the recent increase in numbers to the work of role models like Kate Borkowski ’22 and Julia McCormack ’22.

“Being a female wrestler means we are put into a challenging environment which forces us to compete and practice at a higher standard,” Klein said.

Luna hopes girls will realize they are “stronger than they think and are capable of succeeding.”

To recruit more students, the middle school wrestling team has recently opened to both boys and girls.

Sidwell’s wrestlers have high goals and hopes for the future team, especially for the growth of the girls program.

“There are so many valuable lessons that girls can learn from the sport, such as how to excel in a male-dominated sport, self-confidence and how to love and respect your body,” Klein said.