Four of South Stokes wrestlers qualified for the NCHSAA state championship last year and two placed fourth and fifth in the state. Matt Patane, the only returning qualifier, battled an injury during football season but was set to make a strong comeback.
“He wrestled against East Davidson and won. Then we went to South Carolina and he won his first match, but felt his knee give out. He had to forfeit the next two. I’m afraid he’s done,” said coach Chad Amos. “Right now we’re struggling a little, but that’s understandable because we’re young.”
At Saturday’s annual Joe Via Memorial, one of the longest running tournaments in the state, Amos was encouraged to see freshman Lowell Shotton win the JV division in the 106 weight class.
“I have a good core of ninth graders. They’re showing some real potential. Lowell is a fireplug and he’s a good kid,” Amos said.
Edel O’Donnell (106) and Steven Fatz (145) finished in third place.
“I think they understand where we’re headed. I’ve explained to them we don’t wrestle easy competition because the only way we’re going to get where we want to be is to wrestle people better than us,” the coach said.
In varsity, John Kevin Fischer (132) came in third by defeating an RJ Reynolds opponent by pin.
Manuel Espino (106) finished fourth.
“Manuel wrestled last year and has improved so much,” Amos said. “In the past he got beat, but he’s come back and has a lot more confidence.”
Alvin Reynolds went 1-2 (126) and Josh Patane finished 3-2 (160).
“The good thing about this tournament was they got to see some really good wrestling in the finals. When you see that, it pushes you to become better,” Amos said.
In the beginning of the season the coach encouraged his athletes to write out three long-term and three short-term goals and place them in their locker as a reminder of what they plan to accomplish.
“Our goal is to maintain and keep recruiting to fill a team. As coaches, we want to have a JV and a varsity. Being a small school, that’s hard. We’ve been fortunate to have an administration that supports us along with a great group of parents,” Amos said.
South’s record is 3-10 with wins against East Chapel Hill, Sanderson, and Alleghany.
“The biggest thing for us right now is to keep working hard to get better. They see the big picture. They understand there isn’t a lot of pressure on us this year, but there’s potential for us to be strong next year or the year after,” the coach said.
Monday after school Amos’ athletes were back in the gym preparing for upcoming tournaments in Statesville and RJ Reynolds. Joining them were former Saura wrestlers Keegan Ross and Dawson Flynt.
“It’s nice to have the ones who’ve made an impact come back to help,” Amos said. “I’m hoping the program continues to be like a family where there’s a lot of support. I know their hard work will pay off. I hope they don’t get deterred looking at records, but keeping working to get better and improving.”
South Stokes hosts the Rick Williams Duals Tournament made up of eight teams Saturday, Jan. 2 beginning at 9:30 a.m.
Amanda Dodson can be reached at 336-813-2426 or on Twitter at AmandaTDodson.