A season of firsts
The 2012 season has been nothing short of magical For R-S Middle wrestling.
Thursday night the Knights capped-off an undefeated regular season with a 81-12 win over their county rival, East Rutherford Middle.
The Knights dominated East Rutherford in front of a large crowd the swarmed head coach Brad Keever after the victory was sealed.
"It's crazy with all these people," said Keever. "I'm just on an adrenaline rush right now."
Last season, which was also Keever's first with the team, the Knights lost out on a playoff spot on a coin-flip that determined the No. 2 seed in their division. This year however, no flip is needed.
"I told my kids this year I didn't want a coin-flip to determine our fate," said Keever. "This is the first year we'ver come in No. 1 as division champions, first year hosting a playoff match and first time undefeated. Not to mention, we have four different wrestlers on the team that are 10-0."
Those undefeated wrestlers are Spencer Norris, Joey Dysart, Tyler Simmons and Ramon Rodriguez.
As important as individual success is, Keever looks for more than just wins out of his top wrestlers.
"Dysart is one that I work with to help up-and-comers," Keever said. "Caleb Bowie is another that works with kids who aren't picking up things as quickly. I teach him and he's a great all-around kid."
Keever, an EC teacher at R-S Middle, literally saved the wrestling program from extinction when he took over last season.
"Half of my kids were EC and wanted to wrestle, but they were going to cut the program," Keever said. "I didn't want to let my kids down so I said that I know some and if they were willing to learn with me then I would coach."
Despite having wrestling knowledge, Keever is still an educator, which makes for "unconventional" practices.
"As a teacher, academics come first. So the first several minutes of practice are spent on homework," said Keever. "I'm certified to teach basically everything so if any of the kids are having problems I sit down and help them with their work. I've got a few honors kids on the team that help as well."
That mix of kids allows for more than success in the classroom and the mats, but also promotes friendship.
"The cool thing is that they probably wouldn't friends if it wasn't for wrestling," Keever said. "We're like a little family. It's unlike any other sport, you have to be close, dysfunctional as we may be. This is a very good bunch of kids."
Keever prides himself on catering to the needs of his wrestlers, much like his special needs students.
"It's all the kids doing it in my mind and I'm just here to help them," Keever said of his coaching style. "I sit and watch internet tapes, I study and a lot of people laugh, but I'm a big pro wrestling fan. I try to incorporate some pro things. Some of the kids are football players so we insert some moves so every kid knows some way to do all the moves."
R-S continues their trek to a conference championship on Tuesday when they take on the eastern division's No. 2 seed. If the Knights prevail they will wrestle for the conference crown on Thursday.
Match winners (winners by forfeit excluded):
Austin Dorsey (146 pounds), R-S
Ethan Yelton (152 pounds), R-S
Da'Aharriase (182 pounds), East Rutherford
Ramon Rodriguez (195 pounds), R-S
Nick Hudgins (220 ponds), R-S
Kannan Brock (Heavy), R-S
Michael Brigman, (98 pounds), East Rutherford
Sammy Peticos (106 pounds), East Rutherford
Caleb Bowie (120 pounds), R-S
Spencer Norris (126 pounds), R-S