Cyclones hoping to grapple with success

By Jeff Birchfield

   New Elizabethton High School head wrestling coach Bill Potter makes one promise for the 2001-02 season.
   "We aren't going to lose any matches because the other team is in better condition than we are," Potter said.
   The Cyclones have embarked on a solid training program that includes push-ups, combat calisthenics and plenty of running.
   About the overall makeup of the squad, Potter said: "We should be a good solid team. We wrestled 24 matches in the preseason at Crockett and won 18 of them. I think we have four to six kids that have a shot at being state qualifiers."
   Josh Fair headlines the group and will probably be wrestling at the 152-lb. weight class, although he is currently hovering at the 160-lb. bracket. "Josh has set his goals high after his performance last year at the state tournament, where he went 3-2." remarked Potter. "In one loss, he only got beat by one point.
   "In the other match, he was up 8-3 and got beat 13-11 by the boy who placed fifth. He has proven to himself that he can wrestle at that level."
   Andy Ross is the grappler listed at 130 pounds and another that Potter expects great things from. "Andy's actually doing better than we thought he would," admitted his pleasantly surprised coach. "His brother John is wrestling for us at 125, and he should have a strong season."
   The other power position is at 103 pounds where Daniel Sochalski returns and is expected to contribute heavily to the team. "Daniel is a junior who has been wrestling two years," said Potter. "His two older brothers were both wrestlers and one (Jeremy) was regional champion two years ago."
   Mitch Cornett is a newcomer expected to have a solid year after going 3-1 in the preseason. Despite his freshman status, he has been on the mat extensively as part of Potter's "Pride and Glory Wrestling Club".
   Sophomore Michael Eggers is also being counted on heavily after being on last year's squad. He is scheduled to be the starter at the 160-lb. class. Patrick Jenkins at 135 is another sophomore, who saw plenty of additional action in the offseason as part of the local AAU program.
   Andy Hobbs is penciled in at the 119-lb. weight class, after serving as the backup at 112 one season ago. "I think Andy can have a solid year if he keeps working the way he has," commented Potter. "He's got a good work ethic and he's a good kid."
   At the 171-lb. weight class, senior Aaron Brown is seen as a proverbial diamond in the rough. "Aaron has made good strides," remarked Potter. "He's picked up things well. He's a kid that comes after you ninety miles an hour. After midseason when he figures out what he's doing, he could be a threat to place in the region."
   Brian Bradshaw is the team's representative at 189. Bradshaw is called "a small 189" by Potter, but, has the most interesting background of any member of the Cyclone squad. The junior has two years of freestyle wrestling experience in Okinawa, where his father was stationed in the military.
   The weakness of the team will come in the numbers as EHS has no athletes to fill the 112, 145, 215 and Heavyweight slots.
   Another good addition to Elizabethton is new assistant coach Adam Wilkin, who had a superb high school grappling career in Ohio.
   They also find a plethora of knowledge from Potter, who has talked extensively to Bruce Baumgardner at wrestling camp in Pennsylvania. Potter also was on the road with Dan Gable, when "America's Greatest Wrestler" was in his prime.
   Despite being fiercely competitive, Potter has a top goal that runs contrary to the famous motto of Vince Lombardi. "We are trying to teach to be aggressive," Potter stated. "Winning and losing not as important as going out and giving all you have every day."
   Their best effort will constantly be needed as the Cyclones embark on a very demanding schedule that includes going to Chattanooga in one of the South's best tournaments. They also will face the best teams that this area has to offer such as Science Hill and Daniel Boone.
   EHS opens the season Thursday in a head-to-head meet at David Crockett. Things really get kicked off on Saturday as they will participate at Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett's "Indian Classic". The Cyclones will be one of 18-20 teams from Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee scheduled to compete in the one-day tournament.
   2001-02 Cyclone Wrestling Roster
   103 lbs. -- Daniel Sochalski
   119 lbs. -- Andy Hobbs
   125 lbs. -- John Ross
   130 lbs. -- Andy Ross
   135 lbs. -- Patrick Jenkins
   140 lbs. -- Mitch Cornett
   152 lbs. -- Josh Fair
   160 lbs. -- Michael Eggers
   171 lbs. -- Aaron Brown
   189 lbs. -- Bryan Bradshaw