Sophomore novice Chris O’Neill wrestles like veteran

By Aiko Delos Reyes

Originally published on February 18, 2015

Sophomore first-year wrestler Chris O’Neill tries to take down a member of the Washington Eagle’s wrestling team on Feb. 16. Photo by Karina Huft

As sophomore wrestler Chris O’Neill starts off the match with a fierce determination, his expression shifts to one with an attitude that says he is going to knock his opponent down. The match begins, and he rushes toward his opponent in an attempt to pin them down and score the most points. While his opponent attempts several takedowns, he makes a comeback and quickly recovers. As the match continues, he never submits and follows through with a decisive shot that wins the match. He and the team turn out victorious.

“The thing that most impressed me though was how fast he picked up on everything.”

With just three months of wrestling experience, O’Neill’s record is nothing short of impressive. O’Neill recently snatched gold in his first junior varsity tournament and followed that up by placing third in two of his varsity tournaments. Along with his victories, O’Neill’s record stands at 17–6 in and out of the Academic Athletic Association.

From the start, O’Neill’s potential was apparent to everyone. “When I first met Chris I could tell he had some talent,” freshman Sanchez O’Leary said. “He was already really strong and athletic. The thing that most impressed me though was how fast he picked up on everything.”

Confidence and determination are the driving forces behind O’Neill’s success and improvements as an athlete. “His attitude before the match is ‘I’m going to steal this guy’s soul,’” head coach Michael Wise said. “During the match he stays focused on the only thing in the world that should matter to a wrestler during the competition: going hard, attacking, always looking to score or pin and both physically and mentally breaking your opponent.”

O’Neill is sure to have high prospects in the future if he pursues wrestling and keeps up the good work. “I can see him as captain of the team, definitely — maybe even in his junior year,” O’Leary said. “I could also see him winning City this year or next year. He got third at Clayton Valley this year, which is probably the toughest in the city, and this is only his first year.”

“His attitude before the match is ‘I’m going to steal this guy’s soul.’”

In regards to his praises, O’Neill uses them as inspiration to further improve in the sport.

“When I get positive feedback from my coaches or teammates, it gives me more confidence as a wrestler,” O’Neill said. “Ever since I’ve started wrestling I’ve been winning a lot of matches. I’ve been improving in the sport at a fast rate and that’s mostly due to the encouragement and support that I got from my coach and teammates.”

O’Neill’s skill is expected to bring him far as an athlete. “Being a first-year wrestler, he still has rough technical edges, but his head and heart are in the right place to excel,” Wise said. “I see Chris being a three-time section champion for Lowell.”

Lisa Cheung contributed to this article.