Betsy grapplers exceed coaches expectations

By Allen LaMountain
ASST. SPORTS EDITOR
awlamountain@starhq.com

   The Elizabethton Cyclone wrestling squad came into the 2002 season with several question marks among some solid returning grapplers.
   A 12-5 dual meet record and four State qualifyers had head coach Bill Potter feeling pleased with how his wrestling team performed in the 2002 season.
   "The team really exceeded my expectations," stated Potter. "We were in three open matches and finished in the top half in all of them. We will lose Andy Ross who was our best wrestler this year. Ross was Region 1 champion and came within one match win of medalling. In fact all our guys that lost at state were to eventual medalists."
   Of the 13 wrestlers on the EHS roster 10 had a better than .500 record overall in their individual matches which pleased Potter saying, "We had 10 wrestlers win more than half their matches which is real good. We had five lose in the medal round of the Regional tournament and Brian Bradshaw - at 171 - fell one match short of regionals."
   Other than Ross - who wrestled in the 125 pound class - the only other graduate loss for Potter's squad will be Bradshaw of whom he said, "He had a good record at 20-11 and he has done some free style before. He's a competitor and all our kids are really."
   Ross will be missed as he retires from prep grappling with a stellar 126-38 career mark. Ross finished his senior season with a 34-7 mark.
   "Andy had a really tough draw in the medal round of the state," Potter said. "He was in one of the toughest weight classes of all. There was a lot of quality in the 125 class, but Andy always wrestled to the best of his capabilities. His only losses were to state medalists, and he could have won four of those seven."
   Tyler Ross was the team's entry at the 112 pound level and he had a solid, dependable freshman campaign.
   At 130 pounds John Ross will return next season as a junior after a fine sophomore campaign in which he won 27 matches, while dropping just nine.
   Corey Henson will also return at the 135 pound class and Potter said of him, "He's a strong competitor and has gotten much better since he learned what he's doing out there. Very raw, but lot of potential."
   Coach Potter called 140 pounder David Salyers, "Our most improved wrestler. David is exceptionally quick, and showed a lot of toughness."
   Pat Jenkins held down the 145 pound class and was a regional finalist and a guy Potter said, "Was a tremendous asset to the team and had a solid year."
   The 152-pound class was anchored by Mitch Cornett who had a .500 season, but Potter thought that Cornett, "Could have won three-fourth's of his matches. Mitch has tremendous physical gifts and when he puts it all together will be a force."
   The 160 and 171pound classes will need to be filled as Eric Moore has said he won't return for his senior season, and Bradshaw graduates in May.
   Michael Eggers had an okay season, but Potter expects him to improve and be a solid senior next year at 189.
   The 215-pound Jarrett Taylor was what Potter described as, "A very hard worker. He has a willingness to learn and that willingness will be what makes him a threat."
   At 275 is David Hardy who has a ton of ability and came within an eyelash of qualifying for the state. "Hardy has great natural ability and I really think that if he continues to work hard will be a force next year."
   With just a few holes to fill EHS could be rising on the mats, and Potter feels that with participation in the AAU summer program that things could be even better.
   "Wrestling is not a sport that you grow up doing," Potter said. "You grow up playing sandlot football, basketball and baseball in pickup games, but wrestling is something you need to work on and gain experience with.
   "That's where the AAU comes in to play. We work with kids from junior high to high school level and the kids gain invaluable experience. Wrestling is one sport you have to love to stick with it because so much hard work is involved. I don't think there is any endeavor that requires as much physical and mental preparation and toughness."
   Potter's AAU squad meets on Tuesday and Thursday night at EHS.