Ragsdale Pumped for UP Wrestling Season
BY F.W. MANNING II
Special to The Pilot
Although it may be only week three of the high school football season, Union Pines wrestling coach Matt Ragsdale is excited about the upcoming season for the Viking wrestling program.
"With six years now invested in our youth Copperheads program, we will start to see some of the kids come up to the high school program," said Ragsdale. "I am also excited about our staff. We have the best assistant coaches in the state. With that comes expectations and they will be a lot higher than before."
Over the summer, Union Pines made some key additions on the coaching front, according to Ragsdale. The Vikings have added a few volunteers and a new middle school coach for Crain's Creek Middle School.
"The only way to continue our success is to surround our middle school staff with the positive qualified coaching staff that our high school has," said Ragsdale. "John Lowery was hired as an English teacher and the first wrestling coach for Crain's Creek Middle School."
Lowery is a dually licensed teacher from Walsh-Jesuit High School in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. He was a two-time Ohio state qualifier in high school wrestling, finishing second in the state his senior year. Lowery went on to wrestle at the collegiate level and was a two-time NAIA All-American for Campbellsville University.
Last season, Union Pines went 30-3 in dual competition and made it all the way to the east regional semifinal stage of the dual-team state playoffs. That squad qualified 11 of 14 wrestlers for the NCHSAA 3A state championships.
With seven returning state qualifiers as the centerpiece of this winter's Union Pines Vike roster, Ragsdale feels the bar must be set higher.
"This year will begin with higher expectations than last year," said Ragsdale. "With the great events we have planned for our home duals, the community and fans will have a blast if they attend. If you have never been to a home dual meet at Union Pines then you are missing out."
Viking assistant coach Chris Vondruska was named the North Carolina assistant coach of the year by the National Wrestling Coaches Association, adding to a huge summer for the program.
"Chris received this award because wrestling coaches across this state know the impact he has brought to our program," said Ragsdale. "This is a prestigious honor for Coach Vondruska, and even though he is young, the award will set high expectations for his career."
Vondruska runs the Copperheads, which is which is the youth club linked directly with UPHS wrestling.
The Copperheads are on the brink of a new season, which will include coaching from Vondruska and a full staff of assistants for grades K-12. The fall session is set to run from Sept. 9 through Oct. 21.
Practices will be on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the wrestling room on the UPHS campus in Cameron.
On Sept. 2, from 6 to 7 p.m., Vondruska will be conducting a clinic for kids and parents, who are encouraged to come and watch for free and take part in a question and answer session after the demonstrations
Sept. 7 marks registration at Union Pines from 3:45 to 6:45 p.m., while Sept. 9th is the first practice at 6 p.m.
The cost of the fall session is $90.
For additional information, e-mail Vondruska at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Copperheads' new website at copperheads.rhinowrestling.org.
Contact F.W. Manning II at email@example.com.
More like this story