WEST JEFFERSON — With wrestling season now in full swing, the Ashe County High School wrestling team is looking to secure the conference championship this season, according to ACHS coach Adam Elliott.
In the past two years, the Huskies have placed third and second in the conference championship, respectively, and Elliott said the only place up from there is No. 1, which the team plans to secure in the 2019-2020 season.
“Our goal is always to win the conference championship,” Elliott said. “That’s a big task.”
For this season, 14 wrestlers are returning to the team, as well as one transfer student. In addition, the team welcomed 11 freshmen to the team, with a total of 26 grapplers competing on the team.
“That’s the most that we’ve had here at the high school in a long time,” Elliott said, adding that the team’s success in previous seasons and a strong middle school program have helped contribute to this season’s numbers.
Michael Elliott, former 2A state champion at ACHS and nationally ranked wrestler at Appalachian State University, joined the coaching staff this season, which Adam Elliott said will also be a big help.
With former 2A two-time state champion Zach Bare graduating last year, Elliott said a number of wrestlers have a chance to fill his shoes on the mat in representing the team on the state level and taking on a leadership level, including Drake Elliott, Timothy Peterson, Gabe Bare and others.
“We expect those older guys to step up, take that leadership role and dominate matches,” Elliott said. “It’s their time to shine.”
Elliott added that ACHS sits in one of the toughest regions in the state. With that in mind, he said he expects a lot out of the underclassmen on the team as well.
“Our goal, individually, is to make it through the region,” Elliott said. “If you can make it through our region, you have a very good chance of placing in state individually.”
The team got its first taste of the regular season Thursday, Nov. 21, traveling to South Caldwell to compete against their team, as well as Bunker Hill and Mitchell. Elliott said the match was a great opportunity to see what the team needs to work and improve on going forward.
“We saw a lot of effort,” Elliott said. “We got the rust knocked off in some preliminary matches.”
Of the things the team will be focusing on in the coming weeks, Elliott noted conditioning and wrestling with intensity, saying that the Husky wrestlers need to assert their will against opponents.
“We’re excited about the season,” Elliott said.
Next up for the Huskies is a quad matchup at North Wilkes Wednesday Dec. 4, including Avery, Watauga, North Wilkes and Ashe. The first home match is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 10, against Pisgah, Elkin and Wilkes Central, starting at 5 p.m.