Juanita wrestlers work out on a recent afternoon. Andy Nystrom/ staff photo

Juanita wrestlers work out on a recent afternoon. Andy Nystrom/ staff photo

Enjoying the grit and grind of the wrestling scene

Juanita Rebels thrive on hard work.

When Juanita junior Braden McNeff steps onto the wrestling mat, he feels that nothing’s impossible. Put your mind fully into the match and you can achieve anything.

McNeff said that he thrives on challenges and would rather succeed at something arduous than have something simple placed in front of him. The 132-pounder sported a 12-7 record for head coach Kevin Corbett’s Rebels, who were 5-0 in league and 10-4 overall at press time.

Things are looking good thus far, but McNeff said he has room for improvement and he’s toiling away in the wrestling room to make that happen.

On gravitating toward wrestling as opposed to other sports, McNeff said: “One, I suck playing with a ball, so it’s nice to finally have a sport where I can just wrestle and use my hands, and also just the grit, the grind.”

Junior Leon Kawahara had an 18-5 record in his possession in 138- and 145-pound matches at press time.

With a background in boxing and kickboxing, the wrestling room was a magnet for Kawahara. He gives it his all each day and is always seeking improvement.

“I look for the best guy in the room and I practice with him. After, I go in the weight room and work out some more, and then I go run — always go the extra mile,” he said. “I like that it’s one on one and you can really show everyone what you’re capable of.”

With a laugh, Kawahara noted that he enjoys hanging around wrestlers, whom he said are funny, cool, quirky and strange.

Sophomore Andrew Doughty smiles at that comment as he steps into the interview spotlight.

As a freshman, he qualified for state and notched one victory at 152 pounds, which is where he’s wrestling now after grappling up at 170 for a while.

After often wrestling with his dad around the house, Doughty took up the sport in sixth grade. His transition from the living room to the wrestling room was tough, and he decided to change his game plan going forward. At the end of his first season, he was tired of getting pinned and started to fight harder and with more heart.

The Rebel wrestlers have battled together and supported each other this season.

“There’s something about going hard and working and knowing that you are feeling the pain together, that brings you closer together,” he said.


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