Trojans set to host 1st and 2nd rounds
The Chase wrestling team has been selected to host the first and second rounds of the NCHSAA dual match state tournament beginning tonight at 6 p.m. with the championship bout to follow.
The tournament operates on a pod system as 32 teams travel to eight different host sites, leaving four squads in each pod. Host sites are determined by conference seeding and geographic location. Joining the Trojans (9-16) are Forest Hills (11-9), Owen (14-14), and West Stanly ( 17-10).
“We are fortunate to be hosting this year,” said Chase head coach Adam Dedmon. “We don’t have the best record, but we did win our conference and we are located centrally between the other schools. Those are the two major things that go into choosing a host team instead of overall record.”
Despite a record that is seven matches below .500, Dedmon expects Chase to advance past tonight’s opponents and into the third round.
“Wrestling is all about matchups,” said Dedmon. “I feel that we match up well with the three other teams. I expect us to win both matches. It won’t be easy, but the team has been in this situation for the past two seasons and that experience will really help.”
Chase’s first match of the night will pit them against the Yellow Jackets of Forest Hills, with the winner advancing to the championship match to face either Owen or West Stanly.
“I feel very confident in our first match with Forest Hills,” said Dedmon. “They can’t fill two weight classes and that gives us 12 points right off the bat. That’s a huge psychological lift in a playoff match where every point is critical. The other schools have a full complement of wrestlers so they are going to be tougher matches.”
Dedmon points to several wrestlers who need to pick up wins for Chase to advance, starting with standout Josh Stephens at 145 lbs.
“Josh is the kind of wrestler that every coach loves to have,” he said. “We can move him up or down a weight class to match up with their best kid and know that he is going to come away with a win.”
“But it has to be more than just Josh,” Dedmon continued. “I think we need to pick up eight individual wins to win the match. Our upper-classmen like Dillon Hemphill, Jesus Sanchez, Lance Johnson and Richard Sharek are going to have to win. Our younger guys are just going to have to go in there and fight hard. They don’t necessarily have to win, but they absolutely cannot get pinned. We can’t afford to give up six points.”
As with any sport, the pressure in the post season is elevated. This is especially true of wrestling, but Dedmon is confident that his Trojans can handle that pressure and pick up two wins.
“You never know which individual match could decide the outcome for the team, so every takedown, escape, reversal, or pin is that much more important,” he said. “That’s a lot of pressure, but we have been here before. This is nothing new. If we wrestle our best, I know we can win.”