It’s like David vs. Goliath, small school vs. big school battling for supremacy on the mat. But squaring off against larger schools is something that Division IV Alconbury High School wrestlers have gotten used to.

The Dragons’ main competition is the likes of Division I Lakenheath and other bigger schools.

“[Lakenheath’s] got 39 or 40 kids and I can’t even cover all the weight classes,” Alconbury coach Bruce Ballard said. “If you look at our wrestling schedule, we wrestle with Lakenheath, SHAPE and Brussels every weekend. You just get to know your opponents.”

D-I schools such as Lakenheath often have wrestlers in all 14 weight classes, while the Dragons have the bodies for only five of the weight classes. Alconbury will also face last year’s D-I runner-up, Heidelberg, defending D-II champion Wiesbaden and defending D-III champ AFNORTH during the season.

“I think the competition forces us to be stronger and we have to work harder,” Ballard said of his squad, the defending D-IV champs.

Because of the logistics of student athletes traveling around Europe, the Dragons rarely see their D-IV peers — schools such as Sigonella, Incirlik and Ankara — until they head to the championship tournament in February. Menwith Hill, a D-IV team last year, does not have a team this season.

“We don’t get to see how they wrestle,” said Jaime Samudio, a senior, who wrestles in the 171-pound class.

They do, however, get to see how D-IV rival Brussels wrestles, Samudio said. The Dragons face Brussels five times this year.

“Everyone [on Brussels] is going to know your tricks,” Samudio said about facing a team so often.

But just because the Dragons don’t face other D-IV teams during the regular season doesn’t mean they aren’t watching them, said standout Dragon sophomore Tyler Lucas.

Lucas cuts out newspaper clippings to keep tabs on the potential competition come tournament time.

“I get to see who is doing well and who I should look out for,” said Lucas, who competes in the 135-pound class. “You got to learn the moves they do. I would like to see the other schools.

“It’s good and bad. You just don’t get new experiences.”

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