BUCKHANNON—While their limited roster continues to pose troubles for the Taylor County Middle School Wrestling program, the team trudges forward, working on individual improvements in preparations for the end of season conference tournament.
The group traveled to Buckhannon on Friday to go head-to-head with fellow wrestlers from Buckhannon-Upshur and South Morgantown in a duals match.
On the evening, Noah Nestor (116) and Javon Vanscoy (128) went 2-0, while Jarrett Blackhurst (123) and Dylan Gutshall (135) went 1-1. Cash Nestor (145) finished at 0-2.
According to head coach Kevin Efaw, these matches are set up in a manner where his squad goes up against another, only being allowed to wrestling five times in a day, and the best of each pool advances. However, due to only having five in the program, the team’s score takes a hit before the matches even begin.
“We are a team of five going up against full teams. So, for each weight class I don’t have a wrestler for, we lose ten points, and there are 15 classes. We are down 60 points before we even get started,” explained Efaw.
Although the Knights are at a major disadvantage, the group continues to give it their all, leaving it all on the mat, working toward personal improvements in order to gain better seeding in the final tournament of the season.
Efaw disclosed that unlike the matches they are currently attending, the conference tournament is held bracket-style and wrestlers are scored individually as opposed to being evaluated as a team.
He also shared that it is his hope to grow the program from here and have more wrestlers join next season, saying that COVID-19 may have contributed to the shrinking roster.
“We started at a different time of year because of the pandemic,” Efaw began. “Typically we are wrapping things up or already have wrapped up by now, but this year, we are just getting started. This is a winter sport, and because of its late start, I think it deterred kids from taking part. And a lot of wrestlers participate in other spring sports, so that definitely took a hit on our wrestling program.”
In the past, Efaw has hosted wrestling tournaments in front of the student body as a way to draw interest, but was unable to do so this year.
“I’m hoping I can host a similar tournament again soon so these kids can see what it is all about. It is so much more than just a silly uniform,” he joked. “It really is a great sport, and can assist multi-sport athletes with footwork and assist in strengthening other areas, as well.”
The TCMS wrestlers were back on the mats at East Fairmont on Tuesday evening. The results of that match will be featured in an upcoming edition of the Mountain Statesman.