Richmond Hill got its 2015-16 wrestling season off a good start Saturday, placing third at the Buddy Duals in Effingham County.
“Should be proud of how we did, should be happy with how we did,” RHHS head coach Bob Parker said.
That’s especially true in light of the youth the Wildcats will employ this season. The squad has three seniors and four returners overall with starting-lineup experience from the team that placed 13that last season’s Class AAAAA state meet. That RHHS team had nine wrestlers qualify for the state meet.
This year’s team, on the other hand, is filled with sophomores and juniors. Just three seniors with state-meet experience return: Alex Hill at 220 pounds, Akira Bechtel at 152 and Colin Crawford at 145.
With the inexperience, comes concerns over not knowing what they’ll do in a varsity match, how they’ll react to adversity and not knowing the difference between being hurt and pain, Parker said.
“The young guys, they try to do everything that we teach, sometimes in the same match,” he said.
However, Parker described his team as “very young, but very talented.” That is a reflection of the program’s growth. The program has 51 kids this year, which is up from about 38 last year, Parker said. He added that there are solid freshmen and sophomores right behind the projected regulars.
Parker attributed his program’s growth to three things: the quality of assistant coaches like Bill Evans and Tony Dragon, the addition of a wrestling program at the middle school, and the success the program has had in last three years.
Camden, Ware and Effingham are expected to be among the toughest competition in the area for the Wildcats.
The first home action for the Wildcats will be a quadrangular starting at 5 p.m. Tuesday.