Andover Wrestling Co-Captain Alex Cleveland ’17 first began wrestling when he arrived at Andover his Junior year. Despite being injured this season, he continues to lead his team to the best of his ability, and his dedication to the sport has not gone unnoticed by his teammates.
In an email to The Phillipian, Cleveland wrote, “Since I am out due to health issues, I do try to lead by example. When I wasn’t a captain, I worked out in the Fitness Center pretty much every day after practice. Now I have tried to handle not being able to wrestle by showing up to practice and using a stationary bike or erg while my teammates wrestle.”
Liz Seero ’18 wrote, “Alex is one of the most hardworking people I have seen. Even though he can’t wrestle, he parks a bike right next to the mat and the manager’s table and works out. He may not have a booming voice or tower over the team, but if anyone were to need help, he would be ecstatic to help. He has taught me to work as hard as possible, as often as possible, even when your opponent might know more than you. I value his contribution to the team regardless of the points he may put up on the board.”
Through wrestling, Cleveland says he has come to understand the significance of determination and persistence. He has improved immensely as a wrestler throughout his Andover career.
“Wrestling has taught me the importance of focus paired with perseverance,” said Cleveland. “I started knowing nothing about wrestling and losing nearly all my matches my first year by pin. Last year though I had a 12-2 season in the duals, I got second at Class A tournament, fourth at New England’s tournament, and competed at Nationals.”
Cleveland’s upbeat attitude and encouragement have played a large role in inspiring fellow wrestlers on the team, according to his teammates.
Pablo Sanchez ’19 wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “Alex definitely inspired me to wrestle. He’s never the biggest kid in the room, but he’s always the hardest worker. Seeing him beat on kids that are a lot bigger really made me want to match his grind. It showed me that mental toughness can make up for any physical advantage your opponent may have.”
Sanchez continued, “Alex isn’t a loud-in-your-face type of leader; he leads by example. Everyone sees the work he puts in and how badly he wants to win that we all follow him. But more than just hard work and a will to win, Alex carries himself like a leader. He’ll never admit it but he is a natural leader.”
Cleveland has made waves as a captain, inspiring his teammates to do their best and be their best, according to his fellow wrestlers.
Gordon Paiva ’20 wrote, “Alex Cleveland has taught me to give my best each and every day, even if I am not feeling my best. The one thing that stands out about Alex Cleveland is his incredible work ethic. Whether it is at the beginning of practice warm ups or at the end of practice sprints, I know that Alex is giving his all.”
“When I think of the perfect Andover wrestler, I think of something very similar to Alex Cleveland. Smart, humble, and hard-working. Alex Cleveland exemplifies all these things. He’s an exceptional student, an amazing person, and a terrific wrestler. He is the embodiment of Andover Wrestling; all in a 113-pound body,” said Sanchez.
Cleveland is excited for the rest of the season and hopes for success for the Andover Wrestling program.
Cleveland wrote, “My goals for the team is for all the wrestlers to do their very best. I know it sounds cliché but that is truly the most anyone can ask. So far we have been doing pretty well, and I would like to see us wrestle with intensity and make an impact in Class As.”