Anthony Sylvester has always been active in sports.
But it wasn’t until this season, his junior year, that wrestling was added to his arsenal of athletics, which include football, lacrosse, basketball and soccer.
His first year on the mat for Abington Heights went well enough that he has wondered what he might accomplish now that he has a better understanding of the sport. Ever ready for new challenges, Sylvester became interested in wrestling after seeing the writing on the wall for his basketball career.
“It’s my first year wrestling,” Sylvester said. “I had heard how intense the conditioning was. It’s a lot harder than any sport I’ve ever done.”
For someone who has played lacrosse, soccer, basketball and football, that is saying a lot. But Sylvester was anxious to find another outlet for his endless athletic energy. Wrestling was the right sport at the right time, as his basketball dreams had to be put aside.
“I did go out for the [basketball] team, but didn’t come to the final [day of practice before the team would be selected] because if I had made the team, there was so much talent that I wouldn’t get much playing time,” Sylvester said. “I decided to try out for wrestling, and I love it more.”
He had received a push for doing so from a couple of different people, whose belief in Sylvester gave him the confidence to try and pick up a new sport.
“I had some friends from the football team tell me I should go out for the wrestling team,” Sylvester said. “Coach [Chris] Calder came out and told me I should try out. I ended up loving it.”
It wasn’t easy — just being an athlete had not prepared Sylvester for what he was eager to get into.
“When I first went out, I discovered I wasn’t in shape for wrestling,” Sylvester said. “I knew I had to work hard to get ready for football, wrestling or any other sport.”
As he got in wrestling shape, aside from enjoying the challenge of learning about his newest sport, Sylvester discovered there was much more than just being prepared physically for the rigors of wrestling.
“You have to have the mindset, or the brute strength or the craziness [to wrestle],” he said. “You just can’t go out there without the right mindset. About 25 percent of it is conditioning, and the rest is the desire to win and beat your opponent.”
Despite being eliminated from the District 2 Class AAA individual championships at the Kingston Armory over the weekend, Sylvester remains committed to his new sport. It has him looking back and seeing what he can improve on, now that he has a little more knowledge about
“I wish I did it earlier,” Sylvester said. “The coaches say if I had come out sooner, I’d be a bigger contender in districts and states. I consider myself inexperienced and [not trying the sport earlier] is something I regret.”
But he still has a senior season in wrestling to think about and it is something the all-around athlete has already thought about a lot. From what he has learned about all of his sports, proper preparation is necessary.
“I’m going to do a lot of cardio and hit the weight room a lot,” Sylvester said. “Footwork is important; you have to have balance or your opponent can put you on your heels and onto your back.”
After a season of learning, Sylvester will go on to his other sports, lacrosse, indoor soccer and basketball, with some time set aside for lifting and getting ready for football and wrestling. With a full off-season, Sylvester believes he will be better prepared for his second season of wrestling, having a better idea of what he’ll be getting ready for on the mat.