Jets, Panthers itching to get region wrestling tournament started

Feb. 8—Brian Parker and Brad Eich, the head wrestling coaches at Stone Memorial and Cumberland County high schools, respectively, have been hunkered away in their practice rooms for the last couple of weeks.

They've been working diligently with the players that will be representing their programs at the region tournament this weekend.

"Practices have been going well, we've switched over to working on individual moves and areas that the individual needs to make improvement," Parker said. "So we do that in each position: neutral, top, bottom.

"Of course, we've been continuing with our conditioning, because you can beat a better kid if you're in better condition. I'm definitely seeing improvement in the practice room with a good number of our kids which is what you really want to see at this time of the year and the postseason."

Eich said his wrestlers have been making great strides.

"The guys are working extremely hard, and have had some great practices over the last few weeks," Eich said. "They seem very focused and excited for this weekend. Our girls still have another week before their region tournament, but they are working hard and are excited for their tournament as well."

The boys region tournament is Feb. 10 at Heritage High School in Maryville. Competition should begin around 9 a.m. CST. The girls region will be Feb. 16 at Franklin County High School in Winchester.

"Practices have been going well," Eich said. "When wrestlers reach this point in the season, they know that the smallest things can be the difference in winning and losing. They have done a tremendous job on improving technique and getting ready for the high level of competition ahead of them."

Parker said he's noticed his players are showing some nerves heading into the tournament. He said it seems they're worried about whether they're going to be seeded, or what seed they will eventually get. He said he's been reminding his wrestlers they should be thinking about how it is time to put up or be put out.

"This is definitely a sport of ups and downs, crying and elation," Parker said. "One thing you can count on in the region tournament is somebody is going to get upset, and somebody's gonna do the upsetting.

"We plan to be the ones doing the upsetting to get some of our younger kids qualified for the sectionals. You have to place in the top four in the region out of 12 teams to make it to the sectional, and the top four sectional finishers make it to the state tournament."

Parker said some of his veteran wrestlers have really stepped up this year and are heading into the tournament on a high note.

"Trenton Duncan, Chandler Gavin, Aiden Thompson, and Dalton Platz are super focused to try to make it to the sectional on beyond," Parker said. "They have been working hard for it. Several of the guys are sophomores and rookies, and have really been trying to get better here at the end so that they can make a mark as well such as Brice Martin, Jack Nealey, Daniel Hawn, and the Becker [Matthew and James] brothers."

Stone Memorial's roster heading into the region tournament will be: 113 — Jack Nealey, 120 — Bradeck Cole, 126 — Dalton Platz, 132 — Isaiah McCulley, 138 — Chandler Gavin, 144 — Brice Martin, 150 — Trenton Duncan, 157 — Jonathan Aguirre, 165 — Aiden Thompson, 175 — Daniel Hawn, 190 — Jonah Reuer, 215 — Matthew Becker, and 285 — James Becker.

Eich said his entire team is locked and focused for Saturday's battles.

Cumberland County's roster heading into the region contest will be: 106 — Deacon Shockley, 120 — Anthony Godsey, 126 — Gavin Kerley, 132 — JJ Voss, 138 — Jack Monchecourt, 144 — Bryson Young, 150 — Matthew Patton, 165 — Kasey Phillips, 175 — Ben Hulburt, 190 — Alex Johnson, and 285 — Jacob Nealon.

Parker said there's not a lot left to do for the wrestlers. It is time to get on the mat and do their job.

"I told them that they've been preparing for this all season, they have the technique in their heads, and they have the conditioning in their bodies," Parker said. "Now it's just time to perform at your best, and do what you've been practicing all along.

"I tell him when you're laying there trying to fall asleep at night walk-through an entire match in your head over and over, and you will convince your body and your mind that it already knows what to do and how to perform."

Eich put it in simpler terms.

"I tell them," the coach said, "wrestle hard and leave everything on the mat."