Donathan, Adewumi expected to lead the way for Comet wrestlers

Matthew Smith | Staff Writer

The training wheels are off, and they’re ready to go.

Coming into the 2017-18 season, the Mason Comet wrestling team was unsure how much success they would have with first year head coach Matt McIntire.  Now, after a year with McIntire as coach and an eleventh place finish at state, the Mason team is poised for another successful year.

The Comets are led by senior Chris Donathan, who finished second at the state tournament last year. Donathan said the wrestlers have seen a change in the leadership and culture that Mcintire has put in place.

“He has helped the whole team and really improved everyone’s character,” Donathan said. “He has made us better wrestlers and done a great job guiding us to the success that we’ve wanted.”

After McIntire was hired last season, the Comets continued to build upon the strong tradition that was already in place.

“(Our culture) is built off of high character within our kids, having a really good work ethic, and showing trust,” McIntire said. “If our kids can have those three things, they will really buy into our program, and the winning will take care of itself.”

The team feels that last season’s success was great, but they want more. Senior wrestler Kamal Adewumi said the team has higher standards for this season.

“We have really high expectations,” Adewumi said. “We have a lot of talented individuals, and we’ve improved a lot since last season. We just need to build off of that.”

Kamal Adewumi and Chris Donathan face off in practice. The two experienced wrestlers will be counted on to lead the team on and off the mat this season.

The team believes they have the talent to be great this year, but health will be critical to the team as well. Adewumi said wrestling without injuries will play a big role this season. 

“We really want to stay healthy without any injuries,” Adewumi said.  “ We didn’t have any big injuries last year so if we can keep healthy, we definitely can have a lot of success and be even better than last year.”

McIntire knows the team has the potential for another big year, but leadership will also be key. McIntire said replacing the seniors and providing more leadership will define the team this season. 

“We graduated some really good seniors we will have to replace; I think [leadership] will be very important,” McIntire said. “A lot of the leadership I’ll put on the seniors, especially to help our underclassmen. They show them the way things are supposed to be done.”

How much success the team has this year will rely heavily on Chris Donathan. Coming off of a second place state finish last year, Donathan said this season, he doesn’t feel any additional stress to get to state again, his only plan is to win everything. 

“I want to go undefeated and win every tournament: I want to return to state,” Donathan said. “I don’t feel any extra pressure to return [to state]. I just take it one season at a time, I don’t worry about that.”

Donathan knows working hard will contribute to how much he accomplishes this year. 

“He’s a very talented wrestler, and he works his tail off,” McIntire said. “All through the offseason, he was working. He works out everyday, and always is training towards his goal of standing on that of podium once again.”

The team knows Donathan will star on the mat, but they also know how important he is to everyone else on the team. McIntire said Donathan plays a huge role in improving the wrestling team as a whole. 

“His talent and his leadership is great for our program,” McIntire said. “Everytime he wrestles he always leaves everything on the mat. He brings so much intensity, and everyone else on the team just tries to match it.”

Donathan improves the talent of everyone around him, but his teammates think he also helps with exposure. Adewumi said Donathan helps bring more coaches to watch the team. 

“Not only does [Donathan] help us at practice, but he gets us more exposure too,” Adewumi said. “College coaches or scouts will watch Donathan wrestle, and see how good he is, but also see how good of a team we have.”

Photo by Tanner Pearson.