The 2013-2014 wrestling season has come to an end for the Cumberland County Jets. It comes as a bitter sweet moment for all involved.
“At first, everyone is excited to not have a three-hour workout, with Coach Mac, and then you start to miss the practice, the wrestlers (your brothers and sisters) and even the coaches” said senior Zeth Bolin.
Wrestling season is a lot of time, blood, sweat and tears this year the Jets made a comeback to the State Individual Tournament, the Jets had four representatives this year two from the boys’ side and two from the girls’ side.
“The region that we are in is not the most difficult region, but it is defiantly in the top three in the state so to have someone qualify is a feat itself,” said Coach Wes McNeely. “There were about 5,000 male wrestlers in the state last season and we have two of the top 32 in the state at CCHS.”
Bolin and sophomore David Scavo were the two wrestlers able to make it out of Region 3 and qualify for the state tournament. Many other Jets represented CCHS very well at the tournament but youth proved to be their downfall.
“We are still a young team and have to get the experience of big tournaments so the kids know how to react in that type of environment,” stated Mac.
The Jets wrestling team has shown great potential and growth in the two years that McNeely has been at the helm. The 2012-'13 season ended with 11 wrestlers and one state qualifier. 2013-'14 ended with 20 wrestlers and four state qualifiers, a better winning percentage and most importantly a growing fan base and support from the community.
The other two qualifiers for the state tournament were freshman Kaleigh Johnson and sophomore Elise Dille, both of whom were first-year wrestlers.
“I can’t say enough how proud I am of these two young ladies. They were amazing this year and have already pledged to win it all next year,” said Coach Mac.
Johnson came in third in the state at 165 and Dille was this year’s state runner-up at 125.
Coach Mac said, “The TSSAA still has to vote on the sanctioning of girls wrestling in March, so we will watch this very closely the state wrestling coaches have expressed their support for the girls. Now, it is up to TSSAA. I would love to see them sanction the girls so the sport can continue to grow.”
For the coaching staff at CCHS, the break between the end of the state tournament and the start of the off-season workouts is just as busy as the rest of the year, if not more so.
“It gets kind of crazy having to sterilize and clean everything so thoroughly, in two weeks, as well as plan the workouts and look at the returning kids to see where they may fall in the line-up next year,” said Assistant Coach Kenneth Davis.
“We still talk to the seniors and are close to them, just like the season never ended. But, when we hold the banquet, it will sink in that we are losing a lot of experience and leadership this year,” says Mac. “ I’m going to really miss the kids that we had on the team that will be leaving this year. For some of them, I wish they would have come out last year. For some, I wish I would have had the privilege of coaching them for their entire high school career.”
The Jets season may be officially over but the plans for next year are already in the works. Practice and conditioning will start March 17. All returning wrestlers, not involved in another sport, will be there honing the skills and getting stronger. Anyone who wants to wrestle during the upcoming year is welcome to attend the afterschool open gym sessions. If anyone has any questions about wrestling or the benefits of this amazing sport, please contact Coach Mac at the Phoenix School, 456-1228, or come by the CCHS wrestling complex located between the tennis courts and the back of the gym.