By Ashley Bowden
Sheldon Bang, a senior at Edward Little High School, ended his final wrestling season with his 100th match victory on January 15; on February 15, he went on to became the Class A State Champion.
Bang has been wrestling on and off for around nine years, five of them with a youth wrestling program and the other four in high school. “I love the competition,” said Bang. “No other sport hinges so much on an individual’s effort, in my opinion. When it comes to performance, it’s just you against your opponent. Your success doesn’t depends on how well the rest of the team performs.”
Sheldon, along with his brothers, Steven, Shawn, and Skyler, started wrestling as children. “We all started wrestling at a young age, following in the footsteps of our father, who also wrestled in high school,” Bang said. “I started youth wrestling when I was about five, but I didn’t stick with it in middle school because, when I moved here, Auburn Middle School didn’t have a wrestling program.”
“During my freshman year of high school, my brothers, Steven and Shawn, and our close friend Connor Murphy, talked to the athletic director about wrestling,” he continued. “He told us we could wrestle as independents with the Oxford Hills High School team because they’re the same class we are.”
Since Edward Little does not have an official team, EL wrestlers Sheldon and Skyler Bang and Mike Williams have to practice at Oxford Hills. “Every day we drive to Oxford, which on average takes thirty minutes,” Bang said. “This causes us to miss the beginning of practice, but we do it because it’s the only way for us to wrestle. For this reason, it would be nice to see a wrestling team at EL. That would create an opportunity for more people to wrestle and to get a full day’s practice.”
“Every practice starts the same, with stretching, then wrestling drills to get warmed up. After, we usually do cardio by running up stairs or sprints down the hall. Typically, after cardio we will live wrestle with our teammate or drill wrestling moves.”
Although they practice with Oxford Hills, they score points as individuals and are not officially considered part of that team. But with all the work they do together, the two teams have become close. “We all feel like we’re part of the Oxford Hills team.” Bang said.
Wrestling is more of an individual sport than a team effort for the EL wrestlers, mainly due to lack of members. “We are from Edward Little, but we wrestle as independents because we are not officially a team. However, it would please all of us from EL who have participated in wrestling to see a team eventually come about.”
Bang said his favorite part of the experience is the sense of pride he feels after tournaments. “I usually feel like I’ve done a great job and wrestled much better than I expected,” he said.
When the Class A State Championships came around in mid-February, the second-seeded Bang was ready, but nervous. “I made my way to the finals, but had to wrestle Skowhegan’s 132-pound wrestler, Julian Siros, to whom I lost three or four times at previous tournaments during the year.” Despite the tough competition, Bang rose to the occasion. “I beat him seven to three, winning the Class A State Championship.”
Bang doesn’t expect his passion for the sport to just end when he graduates this year. “Having a love for the sport,” he said, “I definitely will continue wrestling in college.”