no avatar

Tribe wrestlers looking to match rivals on mat

Jeff Birchfield • Nov 18, 2019 at 12:30 PM

JOHNSON CITY — Dobyns-Bennett offered a strong lineup at the Science Hill preseason duals Saturday, but, as coach Wesley Idlette noted, the Indians were far from full strength.

Ten Tribe wrestlers are still in the midst of the football playoffs.

Much like trying to build depth on a basketball team, the situation offers D-B a chance to get better at different weight classes. That’s fine with the coach who wants to get on the level of the rival Hilltoppers, who have made the state duals semifinals in seven of the past 10 years.

“We definitely want to challenge them,” Idlette said. “They’ve set the standard in our region. Our goal is to compete with anybody you put in front of us.

“Science Hill has that target on their back and we want to do all we can to put our guys in position to challenge them.”

Two Tribe wrestlers sure to be up to the challenge are returning state medalists Brennan Watkins and Jackson Hurst. Watkins did particularly well Saturday when matched against Elizabethton’s Hunter Morrell, another state medalist last season.

“He really stood out and wrestled well,” Idlette said of Watkins. “Jackson wrestled a really tough match against a kid from North Carolina, and Cannon Mullins, our lighter kid, also wrestled tough.”

Among the others, Tre Morrisette and Clint Morrisette are being counted on to have big seasons. If their last name sounds familiar, older sister Sasha is a former D-B basketball standout. Idlette said the Morrisette brothers feature the same kind of athleticism.

“They’re phenomenal athletes with a lot of talent,” Idlette said. “For them, it’s just cleaning up on the technique.”

Some of the football players expected to make a big difference are returners Jesse Greer, Caleb Burleson and Patrick Mitchell. Several freshman football players are also expected to join the team.

Saturday’s duals lineup featured Gavin Armstrong, Eli Whitley and Shane Lemons competing in the advanced matches in the lighter divisions. Aidan Rhoton and Justin Lemons represented D-B in the heavier classes.

Add in all those who wrestled in the beginner and intermediate matches, and the event gave plenty a chance to test their skills. It also was an opportunity to showcase how the program has grown over the past season.

“It was good to get our guys in matches,” Idlette said. “This is one of the biggest group of athletes we’ve had. We’re close to 45 when there were about 30 last year entering the season.”