Pigeon Forge wrestling team wants a dual championship
It’s all about the team for Pigeon Forge.
While wrestling can be viewed as an individual sport, the Tigers are seeking something bigger this year.
“In the past we’ve had a different dynamic,” said Pigeon Forge coach Greg Foreman. “In the past we’ve had an older group and then a younger group. They always looked out for their clique or each one looking for individual state championships. They were more individually focused.
“... This is the most unified team that I’ve ever had since I’ve been coaching there.”
Foreman has had some good teams in his 11 previous years with the Tigers, reaching the A/AA state dual championship match the last three years. This year, Pigeon Forge wants to win that match.
Doing so comes down to each wrestler up and down the Tigers’ lineup doing their job. It’s a mindset Foreman and his staff focus on from the youth level on up.
“Wrestling is different,” Foreman said. “It takes a different mentality, a different kind of athlete to deal with the individual aspect as well as the team aspect at the same time. You’ve got eyes on you as an individual, and your team’s eyes on you as well. ... They’re all part of this large, bigger picture.”
There’s a hunger, particularly among the Tigers’ seniors, to finally capture that state title. Pigeon Forge has been so close. The loss to Greeneville last year, by a mere two points, is motivating wrestlers like senior Brandon McCauley.
“It keeps up our drive and makes us hungry to win it the next year,” McCauley said. “It gets us to work harder and work faster, make sure you want to beat that person in front of you.”
That’s good news for Foreman because he said the key to overcoming adversity in the state final is what he calls bonus points. A regular victory in a match, by eight points or less, is worth three points to a team. But a victory by up to 14 points is worth four points and one by 15 points is worth five. A pin is worth six.
Those extra points, above what you get for just simply winning, are the difference when teams are so evenly matched. That’s what these Tigers are battling for. By pushing themselves, hopefully the team can receive great rewards.
“We needed to work a whole lot harder,” said senior Sean Underwood. “I changed my cardio, my technique, just my mentality about everything changed (after last year.) ... It takes sweat and determination to get there. It takes a lot of hard work. None of our guys go easy on it. We strive to make it there.”