Photo by Chris Lee
In a world with wrestling on the rise, one player achieves the height of accomplishment, leading his team to victory time and again.
As co-captain of the squad, Takao is a firm leader, helping to lead the Cardinals to a 2-1 start in the Academic Athletic Association. “I try to bring my teammates together,” Takao said. “I also am very determined, and while I’m nice, I still hammer everyone to do what they need to get done, so we can be at our best. Rather than focusing solely on myself, I tend to focus on improving every single wrestler on the team. I have to serve as a role model that everyone can look up to.”
Head coach Colin Ikeda appreciates Takao’s dedication to the team. Having been on the wrestling team since freshmen year, Takao understands his role in bringing the less experienced wrestlers up to speed. “T.K. is one of our best wrestlers and adds a lot to the team with charisma and leadership abilities,” Ikeda said. “He helps build the less experienced wrestlers mental toughness. A lot of being a wrestler is leading by example and that’s what T.K. does best. The guys and girls watch him wrestle and get inspired by that alone.”
Takao is working hard to overcome an injury from last year. He fell off his bike last November, tearing multiple ligaments in his wrist, sidelining him for the entire season. Still, he is trying not to let the injury affect him on the mat. “I’m just wrestling like I’ve always wrestled,” Takao said.
Apart from the physical aspect of the sport, wrestling takes a great deal of mental focus in order to master. Takao is trying to improve this season by slowing down his thought process. “Going into the matches, I used to be all over the place, but now I’ve relaxed, and even though I have to think a mile a minute, I stay calm and let everything flow naturally,” Takao said.
Obviously his change in mind-set has paid off, leading him to a 9-2 record, as well as first place in the Bill Martel Invitational at Northgate High School and fourth place in the Clayton Valley Invitational at Clayton Valley High School. Though he still is looking to develop his wrestling. “There is still a lot to learn in terms of technique, and just reinforcing certain actions I make,” Takao said. “There’s always room to improve.”
His teammates have nothing but respect for Takao, regarding him as a talented wrestler and role model, whose love and dedication to the sport benefits all. “T.K. not only shows up to wrestle hard, he also gives really good advice, and by being one of the best wrestlers on the team, he is a great role model,” sophomore Joao Carvalho said.
Years on Varsity: 4
Wt. Class: 152
A version of this article first appeared in the Jan. 27, 2012 print edition of The Lowell.