Wildcats ready to peakPublished 10:53am Friday, January 10, 2014
The Benjamin Russell Wildcats wrestling team has been here before.
After grappling throughout winter break, the ‘Cats have a few days off before they tangle with opponents, and coach Andrew Campbell said the team is on its way to where it needs to be.
“We’re right on that upward peak,” Campbell said. “Last year, we really started seeing the progress toward mid to late January. We’ve had a lot of injuries, and that’s some of the reason why we haven’t had as many wrestling break out this season.”
While the Wildcats aren’t trotting out a dominant grappler at every weight class, three of their wrestlers are enjoying fantastic seasons.
Sophomore Tae Robinson and seniors Deon Maxwell and Daniel Bland have been three of the biggest bright spots for Benjamin Russell this season.
Each athlete has collected at least 20 wins on the year. Bland, the Wildcats heavyweight, leads the team with 29 victories, most of them having come by pinfall.
“They are all having great seasons,” Campbell said. “With Tae, this may be his first year as a starter, but it’s not his first year as a wrestler, as he was teammates with Daniel in middle school. Tae’s a very competitive kid, and when you have a friend that’s in there practicing with you, it makes you work that much harder. That’s what we’re seeing with Daniel, Tae and Deon.”
With the seasons heading into the homestretch, Campbell said he’s not worried about the wrestlers becoming late bloomers so to speak.
In fact, he said, the later they peak, the better it will be for the Wildcats.
“I want them peaking at the last possible moment,” Campbell said. “That’s why we run practice the way that we do. It’s tough and hard, but we’re going to starting slacking off to get our injuries and throbbing pains healed up so we’ll hopefully be at 100 percent rolling into sectionals, because winning there is what puts kids at the state championships.”
In addition to Maxwell, Bland and Robinson, Campbell said that the largely young team continues to impress with their work ethic and go-getter mentality.
“Besides our top three, all of our guys are so young,” he said. “They’re right there, but we have to get them over the hump. Jamie Whitehead has been competing in a weight class above his natural weight, so he’s going out there against kids 15-20 pounds bigger than him, but he’s very determined and has picked up a couple of wins here and there. Eron Deloney is one of the hardest workers we’ve got, and we looking for all of it to click soon.”
For now, the Wildcats will continue to work in the practice room as they prepare to close the season on a high note.
“We’ve had a good week of practice,” Campbell said. “We’ve got Homewood and Mortimer Jordan over the next few weekends, so we’re hoping to throttle it up, work on our technique and make sure we’re ready.”
BRHS returns to the mat on Jan. 16 for a tri-match at Opelika. Following that, the Wildcats will compete in a weekend tournament at Homewood.