County wrestlers prepare for state
It’s a scene you wouldn’t see in many other sports.
Just days before the state tournament, the county’s three wrestling teams — Seymour, Sevier County and Pigeon Forge — were working out together on Tuesday at Seymour High School. Rivals at the county championship a few weeks before, the three squads were working together to prepare for the trip to Franklin this weekend.
“When I was in high school and competed, this last little bit of state duals, region individuals and state individuals, at least one or two days a week (we’d) get with different programs,” said Pigeon Forge coach Greg Foreman. “Kind of mixing it up and mix the kids up.”
Getting a different look from someone other than your teammates is crucial at this time of year, the coach said. It helps wrestlers moving on to state practice against an unfamiliar foe instead of teammates they’ve been seeing for months.
Luckily, there are plenty of partners to choose from in Sevier County after the three schools qualified 27 for this weekend’s Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association state individual championships in Franklin. Seymour will send 11 and Sevier County three to the AAA tournament, which begins today at the Williamson County Agricultural Exposition Arena. Pigeon Forge will have 13 wrestlers competing in the newly created A/AA event, which begins Friday. Championships in 14 weight classes are Saturday evening.
“You get to experience something new,” said Chris Poore, the Eagles’ 106-pound regional champion. “Instead of usually drilling with the same person over and over and over again, it mixes it up a little bit. When you’re actually in a match it’s not going to feel like the person you’re going against in practice.”
Breaking up that monotony is important. Foreman said even two skilled practice partners begin to learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses over months of workouts. Throwing in an unfamiliar opponent from a different team keeps wrestlers on their toes and prevents complacency.
Seymour coach Alex Cate said he’s done these kind of workouts before with schools like Heritage or Maryville. But with so many wrestlers qualifying from those schools this year, it would’ve been hard to squeeze them all into a practice room.
So instead the county wrestlers got together.
“It's a good time to see a different style than what they see every day,” Cate said. “It’s good to mix it up with somebody who maybe has a different stance, different body type. That’s a big advantage.”
The mix of wrestlers filled Seymour’s practice room. Even before the others arrived, some of the Eagles called out which opponent they wanted to wrestle. It was more of a “happy-to-see-you” atmosphere than a tense, competitive one. After all, most of these wrestlers will be competing in different classifications this weekend.
In a tight-knit sport like wrestling, these local competitors are happy just to see the sport succeed.
“More than anything it’s great to have a lot of recognition of this sport in this county,” Foreman said. “Regardless of whether it’s us or whoever it is. This is a sport I’ve committed my entire life to since I was four years old. It’s great to have somebody in this area getting a lot of accolades for this sport.”