Decatur High School

The little giant takes the mat

Bella Reiss

“Those two minutes seem like forever on the mat. You get tired on the first minute, and you’re trying to just not get pinned. There’s so much work in those two minutes,” Waterhouse said.

Hannah Reiss, Carpe Diem staff

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For sophomore Max Waterhouse, wrestling came as an acquired taste. His father wrestled in high school, so he followed in his footsteps when he came to Decatur. At first, he thought it would be too much work, but the benefits quickly outweighed the required effort. “Once I did it, I fell in love with it,” Waterhouse said.

He wrestled last year, but because the team didn’t officially compete, he says it was “more of a club than an actual sport.” With a handful of meets under his belt, Waterhouse appreciates wrestling people in his same weight class – at school practices, he has to wrestle bigger guys.Waterhouse wrestles in the lowest weight category, which is 106 and under. Even still, Waterhouse is smaller than most of his opponents. Most of the people he wrestles weigh 104-105, but he’s only about 92. “I want to get more weight on by muscle,” Waterhouse said.

Becoming more dominant will require more than just poundage. “Strength counts a lot, but you also need to know what you need to do,” Waterhouse said. “I need to know how to move around, be fast and be accurate with my moves.”

He’s still building his skill set, but when he gets out on the mat, nothing else matters. “You get there, and you want to win,” he said. “I will put up one heck of a fight.”

Though there are distractions, nothing is getting in the way of his concentration. “You aren’t watching the clock, and you can’t see the score. When you get in the circle, you’re focused on the person you’re wrestling, and you want to figure out what he’s going to do. It’s fun to find out what makes a person tick.”

Waterhouse has the intensity, but he’s still trying to figure out exactly what moves work best for him with his short stature. “Some of the moves I try, and I can’t do it because my arms aren’t long enough to reach,” he said. For now, the basic objective is to force his opponent to move more than he does – and sometimes this requires grabbing a leg.

Because of his low weight and short height, Waterhouse does all he does to prevent his opponents from picking him up. When they do take control, though, he tries to resist and let them tire themselves out.

Despite all the strategy, it boils down to one thing. “[When I walk out], I get scared and think ‘Oh crap, it’s not going to work out because he’s tall, and I’m short,’” Waterhouse said. “At the end, though, I laugh it off and think ‘Wow, that was fun.’”

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Decatur High School
The little giant takes the mat