High school wrestling opens this week and both James River and Lord Botetourt will be in weekend tournaments to open the season.
James River will be in Parry McCluer’s annual season opening tourney in Buena Vista. The Knights have just two seniors on the team and no juniors but they’re stocked with five sophomores and 17 freshmen.
“We graduated 90 percent of our team from last season, so we knew going in this year we’d be on sort of an uphill climb,” said coach Bobby Stewart. “Even though we’ve got a really young team this year, 24 is a number that any wrestling coach loves to see.
“Our main ‘experience’ on the team comes in the form of two returning sophomores and several freshmen that wrestled in middle school. We’re also excited that we’ve got some lady wrestlers on the roster this year as well. We’re looking forward to an exciting season.”
Lord Botetourt will wrestle in a tournament at Wilson Memorial to open the season this weekend. This will be Chuck Burton’s 10th year as head coach and LB has a 145-41 dual meet record in his very successful stint with the Cavaliers.
“We’re still ironing out some weights for some kids and finalizing the roster,” said Burton. “There’s a new weight class system in play this year and I just got used to the last one. This won’t be fully complete until football players come into the fold.”
LB has a four-year wrestler in Trey Saunders at 126. Senior Andrew Gilbert should settle into the 175 spot now that the football team is done and the same is true for Dalton Oxley at 215. LB has good competition at just about every weight class.
“Current holes in the lineup will be potentially be filled by some of our football players,” said Burton. “They could also end up bumping some of those current kids around to other weights up or down the ladder.”
Assistant coaches this year are Paul Craft and Danny Thomas. Paul steps into the paid assistant role after serving last year as a volunteer. He was the middle school coach at Read Mountain for several years and has coached most of wrestlers on the high school team.
Both Lord Botetourt and James River will wrestle in the “Titan Toughman” tournament at Hidden Valley High School on December 9 and 10.