WILKESBORO — A trio of Ashe County Middle School wrestlers took home the conference championship in their respective weight classes on Saturday at Central Wilkes Middle School.
Torin Potter claimed the title at 106 pounds, Drake Elliott earned the championship at 113 pounew and heavyweight Jaron Greer mowed through the field pinning each of his opponents in the first period to win the title.
The Bulldogs also had a pair of runner-up finishes at 85 pounds with Trent Baker and at 182 pounds with Isaac Miller.
Preston Mash (152 pounds) and Kenan Witherspoon (138 pounds) won the consolation rounds for a third place finish while Silas Powers (120 pounds), Blake Hurley (132 pounds) and Luke Osborne (92 pounds) all ended up with fourth place finishes.
Overall, the Bulldogs finished fourth out of nine teams and just 13 points out of first place.
“The team did great this season, I have no complaints,” said head coach Alex Wray. “We were so close to winning it all this year. We’re winning it next year.”
The improvement of the wrestling program at Ashe County Middle School has been nothing short of outstanding over the past three years. After the team finished with a 1-9 record three years ago and a 4-6 mark last year, the Bulldogs finished at 7-3 this year with three conference championships and the whole team will be going to the middle school and junior high state championship this weekend in Winston-Salem.
“We’re getting better every year. We’re getting ready for the state tournament this weekend,” said Coach Wray. “We’re not done yet.”
Thanks to the great community support at the ACMS wrestling fundraiser at Pizza Hut on Monday, the team raised over $800, enough money to pay the registration fee for the entire Bulldog team to compete in the tourney where all the wrestlers will get even more time on the mats and valuable experience for the future.
“All my eighth graders and some of my seventh graders did it all. They took orders, waited tables and cleaned tables,” Wray said. “My kids work hard for me, they worked hard for the money and it shows.”
Looking ahead to the summer, Coach Wray said he will definitely be hosting a wrestling camp, most likely in June, at Ashe County Parks and Recreation.
“The past couple of summers I’ve been doing other coaches’ camps. My team can’t get better if I don’t get better as a coach,” said Wray. “I have to up my skills too.
The future looks bright for the ACMS wrestling program with a total of 18 seventh graders that will be returning as eighth graders next season, and 10 Mat Monster youth wrestling standouts that will be seventh graders next season.
Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-846-7164 or followed on Twitter @NathanHam87