Chander: “…an emotional, mental and physical rollercoaster.”
February 7, 2017
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Pankil Chander is a 133-pound senior wrestler for Wilkes University who won three matches in a row at the Marts Center to earn the MAC Wrestler of the Week award. On top of that, Chander is a Beacon sports writer as well as an intern for the Sports Information Department.
He chose to do an internship with the department because of his passion for sports. The department is usually busy taking care of the 20 plus teams on campus, so Chander decided to highlight coaches and athletes on campus for them.
As a student-athlete himself, Chander understands that student-athletes are the life and blood of Wilkes athletics. He also looks to the coaches for leadership. It is very rewarding for him to tell their stories. Chander has felt and seen the influence sports have on athlete’s lives.
Chander decided to highlight coaches and athletes by both interviewing them on-camera and writing feature stories about them. After shooting on-camera interviews, he felt that it was easier than writing the feature stories. Chander likes to go more in-depth with athletes and coaches, so he finds writing feature stories as a better way to tell their stories.
The most important piece of work he has created so far is a feature story he wrote about Chris DeFrancesco. DeFrancesco is a first-year football player who has battled cancer throughout his life, yet continues to play sports. The story made Chander realize how grateful he is to stay healthy through his long career in sports.
“I have seen the influence that sports have had on people. Sports are a big part of the world and athletes are the toughest people out of everyone. Student-athletes are the ones who go unnoticed, and it is not easy to compete for four years while getting a four-year degree,” Chander said.
Chander has taken various lessons learned from being a wrestler and has applied them to his own life. The most important of all lessons to Chander is learning to be disciplined. Being disciplined can apply to many facets of life. Chander describes this as his gateway to excelling in life.
Ever since 12 years old, Chander has submerged himself into sports. Until his second-year of high school, Chander played football, lacrosse and wrestled. He was the most competitive in wrestling, and that is why he stopped playing other sports.
“I don’t think there is any other sport where you have to harbor such a great deal of toughness. There are not many sports where you have to cut weight every week and actually monitor your calorie intake. Going to practice is like having a two-hour fight everyday, but still have to carry on with your day afterwards. It is an individual sport where your strength and resilliance are always tested,” Chander said.
Wilkes wrestling has not only taught Chander about discipline, but evolution as well. When he graduated high school, he knew that his GPA was low and he was not very involved in extra-curricular activities. He has transformed into a student who is involved in extra-curriculars and is always changing himself to be the best wrestler he is able to be.
Chander stands with a total record of 81-48 after nearly four years of wrestling at Wilkes. He described his wrestling career in a short statement:
“My wrestling career at Wilkes has been an emotional, mental and physical rollercoaster. Emotional comes first,” he said.
This season, Chander is 19-7 and appears to be at the peak of his career. In his final year, he has taken an unconventional route. Most wrestlers will wrestle at one weight class for their first few years and then move up a weight class for their final years. This is because younger wrestlers generally have less experience than older ones, which leads younger wrestlers to lose more weight to find a position on the team for themselves. However, Chander has wrestled the 141-pound weight class for the past three years and is now wrestling at the 133-pound weight class. It was a tough transition for him, but he still believes that he would be able to defeat his previous self every year, which is a testament to his growth.
Two members of the wrestling team, Guesseppe Rea and Matt Grossman, have both been ranked nationally this year as well as previous years and are both somewhat close in weight to Chander. Chander practices with them on a daily basis. To Chander, he does not see them as nationally-regarded wrestlers, but more of teammates and friends. Rea is very close with Chander because they are roommates.
“It is truly amazing to see what my friends have accomplished. I have seen them during their lows, but it is amazing to see how they have grown and are now performing at the best they ever have,” Chander said.
All of them have different wrestling styles, but their energy is contagious to Chander. He refers to practicing with them as ‘iron sharpening iron.’
In the home quad match against Oneonta, Keystone and Washington and Jefferson, Chander won all three matches to earn the MAC Wrestler of the Week award. In his first match, he faced a wrestler from Oneonta who was ranked eighth in the nation, and Chander defeated him with a takedown in overtime for the sudden victory with a score of 10-8. His second match resulted in a 12-9 decision against Keystone, and Chander defeated his third oppponent from Washington and Jefferson by a 15-0 technical fall in four minutes.
“This award is positive affirmation that I must be doing something right, and I will continue to amplify that. It is nice to be recognized , yet title and accolades do not change who you are. You are who you are, and ultimately it matters what kind of person you are; it matters if you are kind to others and live with integrity,” Chander said.
The team’s record sits at a respectable 13-4 record. Chander described the team that he was on during his first year at Wilkes as the best team he has ever wrestled on. However, he acknowledges that that team he was on in his first year was also a team full of older wrestlers. In comparison, Chander describes this year’s team as the youngest out of the past four years. Although the team is young, Chander noticed that the team has a very diverse set of skills. All of the wrestlers have different positive qualities, and that is an advantage compared to other teams that only teach one style of wrestling.
“I took at a hard look at quitting the sport altogether after my sophomore year, and transfer to a school closer to home. I am glad I saw this great opportunity I had at Wilkes through,” Chander said.