West Stokes wrestling program has been on the rise over the years and this season finished with 11 regional qualifiers, a state champion contender, and was named Western Piedmont Co-Conference champions.
Coach Buck Watkins is looking to raise the bar even higher in the 2016-2017 season.
A number of his athletes will be competing in club wrestling and heading out of state to wrestling camps.
“We’ll be in much better shape and have much better technique because of this,” Watkins said.
During his own off-season the coach is instructing camps in West Virginia, Virginia, Florida and Kentucky and has also committed to compete in a college open tournament this November.
“I haven’t chosen a certain one yet but it’ll most likely be the NC State Open. I chose it because a month ago I was feeling the itch to compete again. A buddy of mine from college challenged me to do something when I turned 30,” the coach said.
Another determining factor was Watkins wanted his athletes to see what it takes to wrestle beyond high school.
“Very few in this area have wrestled in college. I want the boys to know what it takes to get there and how difficult it is to stay. I want them to learn about self-sacrifice, discipline and hard work.”
As a college wrestler Watkins put in four years at Seton Hill University and went on to enroll in mixed martial arts training before becoming a coach.
Watkins hopes his athletes will be inspired to push themselves even further than last season.
“I’ve lost 20 pounds in the past four weeks working out twice a day. My goal is for my team to want to continue to train harder and never become satisfied.”
Amanda Dodson can be reached at 336-813-2426 or on Twitter at AmandaTDodson.