Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Election 2020: Live Results | Tracking COVID-19 | Racial Justice

INDEPENDENT LENS: Wrestle

Airs Monday, May 20, 2019 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV + Thursday, May 23 at 11 a.m. on KPBS 2

Jaquan walks to the mat for a big wrestling match.

Credit: Courtesy of Sinisa Kukic

Above: Jaquan walks to the mat for a big wrestling match.

An Intimate and Inspiring Portrait of an Alabama High School Wrestling Team as They Face Challenges On and Off the Mat

“Profiling four members of an underdog high-school wrestling team in Huntsville, Alabama, ‘Wrestle’ constructs an empathetic portrait of a mat that’s anything but level.”The New York Times

Go inside the lives of four members of the high school wrestling team at Huntsville’s J.O. Johnson High School, a longstanding entry on Alabama’s list of failing schools.

Trailer | Wrestle

"Wrestle" goes inside the lives of four members of the high school wrestling team at Huntsville’s J.O. Johnson High School--a longstanding entry on Alabama’s list of failing schools. Teammates Jailen, Jamario, Teague, and Jaquan show that needing a win can be about much more than just beating your opponent on the mat.

Teammates Jailen, Jamario, Teague, and Jaquan face challenges far beyond a shot at the state championship: splintered families, drug use, teenage pregnancy, mental health struggles, and run-ins with the law threaten to derail their athletic success and lock doors that might open their future.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Sinisa Kukic

Jamario's mother and girlfriend comfort him in a stressful moment (right) while Coach Scribner waits to take him to a tournament.

Their tough-love coach Chris Scribner isn’t off the hook, either; he must come to terms with his own past while unwittingly wading into the complexities of race, class and privilege.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Sinisa Kukic

Jamario Rowe (left) gets advice from Coach Scribner during a match.

Director Suzannah Herbert and co-director Lauren Belfer captured over 650 hours of footage during the team’s final season to create this closely observed, deeply affecting depiction of growing up disadvantaged in America.

“Wrestle” premieres on INDEPENDENT LENS Monday, May 20, 2019.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Sinisa Kukic

The J.O. Johnson Jaguars bring it in for a group hug to celebrate a big win.

“It takes grit, real strength of character, and fortitude to overcome growing up disadvantaged in America — especially when the environment you live in seems to be betting on your failure,” said Lois Vossen, INDEPENDENT LENS executive producer. “Filmmakers Suzannah Herbert and Lauren Belfer shine an unsentimental light on the story of young men and their ardent coach who turn to wrestling as one way to deal with the complexities of class and race in Alabama.”

Wrestle - Sweating the Weigh-In

In this excerpt from the film "Wrestle," on the night before a big meet, high school wrestling Coach Scribner and a supportive group of teammates and family stay up with an exhausted Jaquan who needs to drop 5 pounds overnight to make his weight class or he'll have to forfeit. "You got this Jaquan," the coach tells him. Does he?

Watch On Your Schedule:

This episode will be available simultaneously with the broadcast for streaming on demand for a limited time. Extend your viewing window with KPBS Passport, video streaming for members ($60 yearly) using your computer, smartphone, tablet, Roku, AppleTV, Amazon Fire or Chromecast. Learn how to activate your benefit now.

Join The Conversation:

INDEPENDENT LENS is on Facebook, Instagram, and you can follow @IndependentLens on Twitter. #IndieLensPBS

"Wrestle" film is on Facebook and Instagram. Follow @WrestleTheFilm on Twitter. #wrestlefilmpbs

Credits:

Director/Writer/Producer: Suzannah Herbert. Co-Director/Writer/Lead Producer: Lauren Belfer. Writer: Pablo Proenza. Producers: Steven Klein, Seth Gordon and Mary Rohlich. Executive Producers: Micheline Levine, Steven Streit, Walker Deibel and Chad Troutwine. Consulting Producer: Sam Pollard. Director of Photography: Sinisa Kukic. Editor: Pablo Proenza. Associate Editor: Blair McClendon. Music by David Wingo and Graham Lebron. Executive Producer for INDEPENDENT LENS: Lois Vossen.

FEATURED PODCAST

San Diego News Matters podcast branding

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.

  • Every weekday afternoon, we’ll send you our top TV picks so you can hear about upcoming programs and never miss your favorite shows.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.