The Richmond Hill wrestling team has started off the season with a string of impressive performances.
The Wildcats are undefeated at 19-0 and won the Rebel Invitational at Effingham County High School this past weekend.
“We’ve pretty much picked up where we left off,” said Coach Bob Parker. “They’re hungry after last year.”
Where they left off was a third-place finish at the AAAAAA state meet last year.
“It’s a sign of all the hard work the kids and assistant coaches put in over the summer and during the preseason,” Parker said. “They want to build on last year’s success.”
The team is led by Taylor Wilson, who won the individual state title at 182 pounds last year. He has now moved up to 195 pounds. Kevin Murray and Drew Renshaw, who both finished fifth at the state meet last year — at 182 and 220 respectively — also return, as well as Skyler Aguilar (heavyweight) and Charles Logan (170).
“We’re a very senior-led team,” Parker said. “We have a lot of experience and it is showing in our meets.”
Also back on the mats are brothers Rakeem and Akeem Littles, joined by their younger brother Jakeem, as well as Bailey Anderson, Michael Allen and Will Evans.
“We have a lot of depth across the board at every weight class,” Parker said. “That makes for some very competitive practices.”
The team is so deep, in fact, that its junior varsity team finished fifth against varsity squads at Effingham, placing ahead of 16 other schools.
Parker said wrestling is drawing more athletes to the program who can find success regardless of their size or experience in other sports.
“We have 14 weight divisions, so anyone can find their niche if they are willing to put in the work.”
Up next for the Wildcats is their own St. Nick Invitational this weekend. The event, which continues to grow every year, will draw 21 teams from four states and begins at 5 p.m. Friday. The action resumes at 9 a.m. Saturday with finals starting by 4 p.m.
“It keeps getting bigger every year,” Parker said of hosting the event.
The draw includes teams not only from Georgia, but Florida, Alabama and South Carolina as well.
The Wildcats then head to Myrtle Beach, S.C., the following weekend before closing out 2017 on Dec. 30 in Swainsboro. Meets continue in January ahead of sectionals and the state meet in February.