Stanly wrestling teams take to the mat for 2018-19 season
This high school season, four county teams return a number of wrestlers looking for success at each level, including a number of state qualifiers from last season.
The Bulldogs and head coach Dustin Foley return six wrestlers, including state qualifier junior Adrian Little.
Albemarle will lean on the experience of its returning wrestlers, including Little, Jylukus Hyatt, Naqian Carpenter, Unique Carvalho, Gideon Gortney and Monta Hall, according to Foley.
Newcomers to the mat are Keshawn Mouton, Malik Patterson-Long, DJ Polk, Jaylen Watkins, Owen Austin, Christian Poplin and Carmen Honeycutt.
“We have an exciting opportunity this year,” Foley said. “We are able to mix seasoned guys with high energy and athletic rookies. If they get better every day, they will be able to make their presence felt at regionals and beyond.”
The Bulldogs open the season Tuesday at home against North Stanly and Thomasville.
Head coach Torrie Brown nearly has double the number of wrestlers this season as the Comets did last year and will have more once the Comets’ football season ends.
Returning for North will be senior Elijah McCowan (138 pounds), junior Hunter Kemp (126) and sophomore Blake Gilbert (moving from 120 to 132).
Another wrestler expected to compete for North is Carter Terry; the senior will wrestle at 220 pounds for the Comets once football ends.
North welcomes four new wrestlers to the squad this season: junior Wes Landon (170), sophomores Ricardo Bustas (113) and Ian Furr (182) and freshman Tyreek Lilly at 195.
“We are still a young team. With numbers, we have double the amount we had last year,” Brown said.
He added with having more out to compete, the wrestlers will “influence each other and will push each other a little more. With numbers, we can compete as a team.”
Co-head coaches Michael Curlee and Phil DePasquale said they are excited about the Bulls’ wrestlers this season.
“We have a diverse group of wrestlers in terms of experience,” Curlee said. “We have several seniors on this year’s squad that we expect to do great things.”
Curlee also added South has ”a good number of young wrestlers who this will be their first year experiencing the sport at the high school level.”
Five previous state qualifiers return for the Bulls this season, including Jaquavius Caraway (126 lbs.), Damie Griffin (145), Rodney Hammond (160), Khris Mayo and Cade Whitley (285).
Curlee said he and DePasquale’s expectations are “for them to step up and lead this team” with the number of young wrestlers on the team.
This year’s schedule, Curlee said, “is rigorous and puts our wrestlers against some very strong programs. It is our goal to have these boys equipped with the skills needed to find success for conference, regional and state competition.”
The Colts finished third in the Rocky River Conference last season as well as fourth in the 2A Midwest Region under head coach George Watson. Both of those finishes are among the best finishes for the Colts as a team in the program’s history.
Four West wrestlers qualified for the state match last season, including senior Jared Watson, who earned All-State honors by winning the 2A regional title at 152 pounds.
Also returning is heavyweight Jessie Furr; the senior was third at regional and finished with All-Stanly honors last season.
At 126 pounds, Korbin McNeill returns for his junior season after placing second in the regional and winning all-county last season.
Aidan Hiott, a sophomore, was 41-8 last season and was the 2018 Stanly Wrestler of the Year. Competing at 113 pounds, Hiott was All-Stanly, All-RRC and a champion at regional.
Also returning for the Colts is sophomore Bryson Whitley. The 106-pounder was All-Stanly last season and finished one win short of qualifying for the state tournament.
Coach Watson said the Colts are returning a number of other wrestlers this season. He added he was excited about the team’s freshman additions from the West Middle squad: Joseph Frey, Greyson Pope and Dakota Alexander.