KINGSPORT — For Dobyns-Bennett, the wrestlers at the lighter weights could have a heavy impact on the Indians’ chances at returning to the state duals.
D-B only lost five individual matches combined in lopsided victories over Sullivan East and Cocke County. Four of the five losses, though, came in the six lightest weight classes.
“We graduated real heavy last year, and so we have a lot of young guys filling in,” Tribe coach Buzzy Mann said. “But they’re doing a good job.”
Mann also had to shuffle his lineup due to his son Adam’s knee issues that now keep him on the sidelines.
At least the Tribe can field a full 14-wrestler lineup. East coach Tim Harris still is searching for someone to grapple in the 103-pound division.
How does that process go?
“You just go up to the smallest athletes in the school and see if they’d like to try,” Harris said.
It isn’t easy, though, and most 103-pounders at the high school level end up being a stopgap. Maintaining at such a weight is difficult for growing teenage boys.
Or, if you’re like Ty Hayworth, you just pack on the pounds. Hayworth, a budding prospect for D-B’s football team, is on the wrestling squad for the first time. Competing in the heavyweight division, Hayworth pinned both of his opponents Wednesday night, winning each match in less than a minute.
“He’s a good football player and this should help him a lot in football,” coach Mann said. “We need to get a lot more of those football players out here wrestling.
“If you go back and look, thaere’s a lot of NFL players that wrestled in high school and wrestled in college.”
Austin Mann, the Tribe coach’s other son who wrestles at 125 pounds, pinned both of his foes on Wednesday — as did the Tribe’s Bobby Lemaster (130).
Trent O’Brien, the Indians’ 135-pounder, went 1-1 but his loss was a 4-3 decision against East’s Michael Bishop, the Patriots’ top wrestler.
Bishop is the younger brother of Kole Bishop, who won a state championship for East a season ago. The younger Bishop only recently returned to action from injury.
“He didn’t start wrestling until the first of the year so he’s only been wrestling for a few days,” Harris said. “He definitel;y needs to work on conditioning and get himself in better shape. It was a good match for him.”
And Harris thinks the Patriots’ new Class AA distinction is a perfect fit in East’s attempt to make the state duals.
“We still don’t have everybody healthy and in the lineup, but once we do, I believe we have the pieces to contend for a state spot,” Harris said.