Varsity wrestling looks to continue success, despite setbacks


Sarah Davis

Senior Liam Ziaja wrestles against Bowie wrestler attempting to pin him to the mat at Westlake on Dec. 6.

The loss of three-time State Champion Jack Skudlarczyk, currently competing at the University of Northern Iowa, was a big one for varsity wrestling.

“Jack was not only the most accomplished wrestler ever from Central Texas, but one of the best in state history,” head coach Patrick O’Harra said. “You never replace a guy like that, but we always use him as an example to follow.”

The team doesn’t seem to be letting his absence slow them down, however. Several wrestlers have been putting up impressive individual performances, including 20-0 senior Randall Pulido, despite a problematic lack of wrestlers in heavier weight classes, which has resulted in the forfeiture of several matches.

“We haven’t changed our strategy much since last year, Randall said. “Obviously my fellow captains and I have had to step it up as leaders, and so have some of the juniors, but we’re still grinding just as hard during practice and trying our best in competitions.”

Dec. 9 at the San Antonio Roosevelt Rough Rider Invitational, the team placed fifth with only six of the 14 weight classes filled, and at the Hill Country Invitational Dec. 16, Westlake finished 12th out of 21 teams with only five weight classes filled.

“I think we have done pretty well with the guys we have,” O’Harra said. “The wrestlers with varsity experience are consistently placing in tournaments. However, our dual meet record is a little subpar due to the number of forfeits we have, especially at upper weights. We haven’t been able to get bigger guys to stick with wrestling the way we did a few years ago.”  

Still, the outlook for the the program is good going forward as they prepare for upcoming competitions in the new year.

”The seniors this year have really stepped up,” O’Harra said. “Randall has dominated his competition. [Senior] Bennett Siler is also wrestling very well, and we have some new freshmen who look very promising. The Cy-Fair ISD Invitational right after the break is the big competition on the radar. There will be over 70 teams there from around the state, and it is in the same arena as the UIL State Tournament in February, so it’s always a good test.”

The Chaps’ next competition is the Doc Hess Tournament at Bryan High School Dec. 23.