Patriot Grapplers Open With Thanksgiving Duals
The Pinecrest wrestling team seems poised to parlay its steady growth over the past several years into a strong bid for statewide success and recognition this season.
The Patriots open up the 2011-12 season today with the Thanksgiving Duals, an all-day six-team wrestling dual tournament at Pinecrest’s James Moore Gymnasium. Included on the bill besides the Pats are Panther Creek, North Rowan, Seventy-First, Terry Sanford and Douglas Byrd.
Head coach Travis Flinchum and his Pinecrest squad have been hard at work preparing mentally and physically for this season to start, virtually since the last one ended.
“All I can say is the guys are ready,” said Flinchum. “They are conditioned, confident and ready to compete. We are super excited to start the season — we love to compete.”
Last season, the Patriots captured the Southeastern Conference regular season and tournament championships, qualifying for the second round of the dual team state playoffs — finishing with a 13-6 record in dual competition — and placed sixth as a team at the state 4-A individual wrestling championships.
“Our goals are simple,” said Flinchum. “Work hard every day, be confident, aggressive and never quit. We have goals that we discuss as a team, but if we do these things, we will be successful. I believe the last four years has just showed the amount of dedication that these young men bring to the program.
“We have a strong group of determined individuals who want nothing more than to be the best. At an earlier meeting this year the team decided that if we made ‘team support’ our No. 1 goal, worked as hard as possible on and off the mat, then anything is possible, including a state championship. We know that there are plenty of other teams out there gunning for the same goal as well.”
Pinecrest has four returning wrestlers who qualified for the state finals last season.
Topping that list is senior captain Dustin Roemer, who compiled a record of 49-1 with 33 pins as a junior on his way to an NCHSAA championship. The recent UVA signee is the reigning 4-A 145-pound state champion. His younger brother, sophomore Dallas Roemer, placed fifth in the state last season and will be wrestling at 132 pounds for the Patriots this year. Junior Luke Fetla and seniors Garrett Bateman and Zac Lupien are the other returning state qualifiers.
“Dustin Roemer and Garrett Bateman are returning captains,” said Flinchum. “Our leaders are great. They are a great example of what we look for on and off the mat. This group of kids has been the hardest-working group I have ever had. They look up to the older guys knowing that they have to work hard if they want to be successful as a team. Our captains know how to push the group hard and not lose their respect in the process.
“We have about 10 starters back. We are still filling spots with ninth and 10th-graders that are tough and ready to go. The returning qualifiers know that now it’s not about qualifying anymore, it’s about placing at the state tournament. As a coach, you always want your kids to finish better than the previous year. It doesn’t always happen that way, but it’s what we like to see.”
Out of the 14 weight classes that make up a dual-team match, Flinchum listed 11 starters, including freshman Irvin Enriquez at 106 pounds, Lupien (113 pounds), freshman Dakota Nelsen (120), junior Cody Fitzgerald (126), Dallas Roemer (132), Bateman (138), junior Jonah Calibri (145), Dustin Roemer (152), sophomore Rider Excell (160), junior Ryan McGuire (170) and Fetla (220).
Sophomores John Major and Bryson Thomas will figure in at the 182-pound slot for Pinecrest, while seniors Trinity Odoms and Calvin Farlow will likely both wrestle at the 195 and heavyweight positions.
Flinchum listed Cody Warner, Daquan Cameron, Mario Contreras and Sawyer Bateman as honorable mention for the Pinecrest varsity wrestling squad.
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