The James River wrestlers opened their season with three decisive wins last week, defeating Fort Chiswell, 60-6, Radford, 45-18, and Parry McCluer, 66-6.
The season opened on Tuesday, January 12, at Radford as the Knights competed in just the second and third matches of the season in the entire state of Virginia. COVID-19 restrictions were observed.
“It was a little different than what we are used to as to how a wrestling match functions,” said Knights coach Bobby Stewart. “It was a great experience to learn from as we begin to host some competitions ourselves. Radford High did an excellent job at socially distancing an area for us to stage our team. The protocols flowed smoothly with the team members and we will all be more efficient as we experience the new rules more.”
Among the protocols was that the winner no longer has his hand raised by the official and participants cannot shake hands before or after a match.
“That’s hard to get used to after all these years of doing it, but we will do what we must to compete,” said Stewart. “Coaching with a mask on is very difficult, but I tell myself just do not articulate so much. My belief is, if they are trained well then you shouldn’t have to be articulate on the edge. We will see if that holds true.”
The Knights have six seniors, six juniors and one freshman on the roster. The six seniors consist of 126-pounder Chase Powell, 145-pounder and returning state champ Mason Stewart, 170-pounder Adam Coleman, 182-pounder and returning state placer Addison McCaleb, 195-pounder Austin Miller, and 220-pounder Nate Farris
“We have some kids that held out this year for virus related reasons and we hope to see them back on the mats next year,” said Stewart. “We have a strong team, and we are really teaching very little and just sharpening the blade. I am eager to see what these kids accomplish this year after coming off a third place state finish as a team.”
The Knights will travel to Central Woodstock High School tonight to take on Central Woodstock, Skyline and William Monroe High Schools. This Saturday River will travel to Wilson Memorial High School to take on Wilson Memorial, state foe Strasburg and Warren County. Then, next Tuesday, January 19, the Knights will host Carroll County and Stuarts Draft.