Cyclone wrestlers ready for regional

Kim Richardson
STAR Correspondent
For several months the wrestlers of Elizabethton High School have worked toward this weekend. They've conditioned and practiced, then conditioned and practiced some more.
They've meandered the local interstate system, back hollows and points in between, driving to the far reaches, and in so doing they've encountered some of the very best competition available.
These wrestlers, as a group or as individuals, well, they haven't won them all, but they have honed their collective and individual skills to as near perfection as can be expected for those in their age group.
And they did it all for one thing: The Regionals.
So now the regionals are upon us. It's time to put all the technique, all the discipline, all the practice sessions to good use. It's time to put up or shut up.
It's the Regionals. You do well here, or you go home.
Elizabethton High wrestling coach Bill Potter is cautiously optimistic approaching this weekend's regional finals that begin on Friday at Vance Middle School, and continue bright and early Saturday morning inside Viking Hall.
"We feel that we, as competitors, be it coaches or wrestlers, that we've done what is necessary to prepare to win," said Coach Potter. "I feel that, though small in number, we're competitive at all weight levels in which we're entered."
The Cyclones have only 10 wrestlers competing this weekend, but of the 10, all have a chance. Coach Potter didn't make any bold predictions, or offer a guess as to which individuals he anticipates making the finals.
"Anything can happen," the coach said, "but we want our guys to expect to succeed."
John Ross concurred: "I have to expect to win regionals," said Ross, 20-9 and the tournament's third seed in the 125 pound class. "To expect anything less, well, would be selling myself and my teammates short. I realize that anybody can beat you, but at the same time, I still have to remain positive."
"There are some great teams, and some great individual wrestlers in this event," Ross continued, "but I feel that our team is very competitive. You never know how things might work out, but we know that we have worked too hard to expect anything short of victory."
Mitch Cornett, 30-8 on the season, is also a third seed, but in the 152-pound class. Cornett is, "Well prepared, yes," he said. "But conditioning will be a factor for sure. That's such a big part of tournament wrestling, and we've really worked very hard; but you always feel that you'd like to be in better shape."
Cornett's concern is justified; there's the potential for as many as three matches within a 24-hour time period to win an individual title.
Zack Potter is in the very tough 189-pound classification.
"It doesn't matter who I have to wrestle," said Potter. "It's him against me. I feel that I'm in peak condition right now. I don't look at anyone in my bracket that will be easy, that's for sure. But I think I'm as prepared as I can possibly be."
Patrick Jenkins agreed with Potter's assessment.
"None of us feel that we're good enough to look ahead to the next match," Jenkins, the fourth seed at 145 pounds, said. "I'll worry about the guy on the mat with me, only. No slip-ups. But yes, I'm prepared. I'm not going to leave Bristol with any regrets. We all plan to leave it all on the mat."
So the veterans are confident, prepared. They've been there before. But how about the younger competitors?
"I think I'll be all right." said Tyler Ross, John's younger brother and the tournament's fourth seed in the 112-pound class. "No way I'd make any predictions," Ross added. "Anybody can beat you. But hey, I'm going there to win, too."
When asked who he feels are the teams to beat, Coach Potter doesn't hesitate, saying: "Science Hill and Dobyns-Bennett are always very tough, and this year is no exception. They're maybe not quite as dominant as in recent seasons, but both schools, year in and year out have some awfully good wrestlers, and a lot of them."
The Cyclones are a promising group, but as the younger Ross said, anybody can beat you.
Also competing for Elizabethton: Zach Gilliam, 11-4, fifth seed, 140-pound class; Cory Henson, 24-14, fourth seed, 135-pound class; Justin Chizmar 24-13, fourth seed, 160-pound class; Jarrett Taylor, 11-11, sixth seed, 215-pound class; and Heath Honeycutt wrestling in the 130-pound class.
Potter is assisted by Adam Wilken.