From Western Pennsylvania to Minnesota, and across the Plains and Southwest, there’s a saying that “Wrestlers are a different breed.”

From being introduced under smoke and flashing lights to strange pre- and post-wrestling routines or celebrations, it’s both a mental and physical war.

Who’s better? We’re here to find out.

And so far, this year, nobody has been better than McAllen High wrestler Arsyn Sadlier, who would fit well in any of those wrestling hot spots across the country.

Arsyn Sadlier during wresting practice at McAllen High school Wednesday, Jan. 10 2023 in McAllen. (Delcia Lopez| [email protected])

Sadlier, a junior whose pronouns are they/them, is one of just a handful of wrestlers who remain unbeaten and one of the even fewer who hasn’t been challenged on the mat, putting together a 29-0 record mostly by first-period pins.

Sadlier had attempted every sport possible, then found passion and success in wrestling.

“A season ago I was just starting to find my footing with wrestling,” Sadlier said. “It was OK and I was kind of goof. But I’ve been working on the technicalities and upping my game in terms of strength and conditioning aiming high for the podium at state.”

One of the 145-pounder’s only matches that went past the first period came after Sadlier was woken up from a nap to let them know they were up next (Sadlier claims they weren’t sleeping but sitting with their hoodie on.) In that match, Sadlier captured the pin in the second period.

“To be honest, Arsyn has just been running through everybody,” McHi head coach Hilario Compean said. “Somebody like Arsyn needs to be challenged or pushed. We haven’t been able to find a challenge down here or in the Corpus area.

“In this sport, you can be as good as you want to be but have to put in the work and get some competition. Arsyn works incredibly hard, has great parent support, is on a good club team and has had a lot of good coaches.”

Sadlier is ranked in the top 10 in Class 5A in the 145 weight class. Their confidence puts any opponent at a disadvantage even before the match starts. Still, you wouldn’t be able to identify Sadlier from a crowd of students even after seeing the fiery wrestler blaze through the opposition. There’s no air of arrogance, and no clues that show Arsyn’s an assassin.

Then again, that’s what makes assassins successful, nobody expects it to be them.

“We call Arsyn the social butterfly on the team. They say hi to everybody,” Compean said. “Arsyn’s strong as hell, has good technical skills and is extremely tough. The most important thing for me is to keep their head focused for the big tournaments when the spotlight is on. My job is to keep them mentally calm.”

“I would get into my head quite a bit and still do, but I have a routine to get out of my head, a mantra to repeat to myself and get myself out of the stress and the anxiety,” Sadlier said. “Anxiety is a real thing. I’ve been diagnosed with it, and it gets a lot worse before a performance, but I’m getting better at dealing with it.”