Sunday, January 16, 2022

Sports Person of the Week

Strand Mastering the Mat with the Grizzlies

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Senior captain Brent Strand is off to an excellent start competing in the 182-pound division with the Guilford wrestling team this season. 

Photo courtesy of Brent Strand

Senior captain Brent Strand is off to an excellent start competing in the 182-pound division with the Guilford wrestling team this season. (Photo courtesy of Brent Strand)

Brent Strand is hitting his stride as a senior captain with the Guilford wrestling team—and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Three years ago, Brent was a 152-pound wrestler for Guilford and wound up earning the team’s Best Freshman Award. The following season, Brent received team MVP honors and Class M All-State accolades for his performance on the mat.

After seeing his junior campaign get canceled, Brent is back in action for his senior year and has won his first 14 matches in the 182-pound weight class, including a first-place finish at the Guilford Invitational on Dec. 18.

Brent began wrestling with the Team Tugman Wrestling Club when he was in 4th grade. Brent had no idea what to expect when he started, but wrestling turned out to be a natural fit for him, and he’s been sharpening his skills ever since.

“I had little experience with wrestling beforehand. My older brother [Jack] had grown up playing football and baseball. My father [Jeff] thought it would be a good idea if I tried something different,” says Brent. “I wrestled at the 152-pound weight class as a freshman. Over the years, I perfected the skills that I learned I was good at from that season and, most notably, learned a lot of patience and humility. Using the techniques I know, I feel that I have more control over each of my matches.”

Brent enjoys many aspects of wrestling. Most of all, Brent appreciates how many of the things that he’s learned on the mat have helped him grow as a young adult in his everyday life.

“Wrestling is equal parts satisfying and humbling. The time and effort required to compete at a high level has been arduous. But wrestling has served as a metaphor for most areas of my life,” Brent says. “It requires effort, commitment, and humility. Although wrestling requires a strong individual effort, the team always comes first. Being recognized as team captain has been a great honor.”

Thus far in the 2022 campaign, Brent has won 12 of his 14 bouts by pinfall to go with a 7-2 victory via decision against Louis Ceci from Greenwich. Guilford Head Coach Craig Vedrani is quite impressed with how well Brent has been wrestling early on this year. Vedrani says that Brent is “as consistent as they come” as both a grappler and a leader.

“You know that you’re getting 100 percent each and every time Brent takes the mat, whether it’s at practice or in a match. His dedication, leadership, and genuine interest in all his teammates has earned the respect from everyone,” says Vedrani. “Brent is a terrific role model for our team, both on the mat and in the community. The maturity he has for a high school athlete is most impressive to me. He continually makes solid, timely decisions and does a good job at reeling others back or building them up when needed.”

Brent credits much of his success to Coach Vedrani. The senior captain says that Vedrani provides him with the perfect combination of technique, discipline, and leadership through his tutelage.

“Coach Vedrani has built a tremendous wrestling program at Guilford High School. His impact on me has been very positive,” Brent says. “He challenges his wrestlers to succeed and puts all of us in a position to reach our potential. It is thanks to him that we consider our teammates as family.”

Brent wrestles year-round, but when he isn’t on the mat, he’s often training. Brent is also a member of the National Honor Society at Guilford High School.

“Wrestling requires a year-round commitment. I wrestle during the offseason and train at Branford CrossFit. Craig Kenney has made a huge impact on my physical and mental preparation,” says Brent. “My top goal is to help Guilford wrestling win a team state championship. My individual goals are to win SCC, Class L, State Open, and New England championships.”

Next year, Brent is slated to attend college at the University of South Carolina. While he doesn’t anticipate wrestling in college, Brent will always have a strong love for the sport beyond his days at Guilford High School.

“I was accepted to the Darla Moore School of Business at South Carolina. I plan to major in business management,” Brent says. “Anything beyond college, I’m not quite sure yet, but I’m excited to start my next chapter in life.”


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