United front: Bears, Indians prepare for this week’s NCHSAA State Wrestling Tournament

By Cody Dalton
O-N-E Sports Editor
Individual wrestlers from all around the Catawba County area are preparing for this week’s NCHSAA state wrestling tournament and many are working together.

On Tuesday, the state qualified wrestlers from St. Stephens and Bunker Hill spent time together in practice trying to prepare one another for the competition they will face.

Indians coach Billy Baker likes the idea of changing up the daily routine to help his wrestlers not become used to their familiar surroundings.

“By teams coming together, it gives them an opportunity to wrestle someone different,” Baker said. “They will see things different technically. The thing that I like is that our kids sometimes get complacent wrestling their teammates. When they have someone new in the room, it rejuvenates them and they push a little harder.“

The Indians had eight wrestlers qualify for the tournament last week, including Jon Holloway, Alex Pollard and Ray Farnsworth. Those three will return to the state tournament after qualifying last year.

Bunker Hill’s Brandon Hicks (130), Phillip Hicks (160) and Joe Litton (189) are state qualifed and participated in the special practice at St. Stephens on Tuesday.

Phillip liked the idea of sparring with new partners to prepare he and his teammates for the tough competition they will face.

“It gives us a different look than we see at practice everyday,” Hicks said. “Usually, you work with the same drill partner or change up within your team. When we got here, we saw that St. Stephens has a different style of wrestling. You see the different types of ways they defend. It is good to get another look, get a glimpse of different competition, get yourself prepared, and feel something different than having your buddy with you all the time.”

Farnsworth (44-1) is competing in his third straight tournament in as many weight classes. He believes his experience at the state level should be an added benefit to him.

“Being on that big stage, it is tough to get your head right and prepare for all of the pressure,” Farnsworth said. “Being there before gives me a big advantage, especially if I wrestle someone who hasn’t been there. As a senior, I want to go out as a state champion.”

Phillip was also a part of last year’s state tournament. He believes each wrestler should prepare themselves not only for the physical, but the mental.

“You have to look at it as any other tournament,” Hicks said.. “You can’t get psyched out. You have to go in, be mentally prepared for anything and just go for it.”