Junior wrestlers look to build on 2016 success


Junior Ayush Patel was one of four wrestlers to advance states this year.

After a strong season, four wrestlers advanced to the final round. Senior leader Joey Hannum, along with juniors Travis Voelker, Jack Malone and Ayush Patel attended the N.C state wrestling tournament to represent the Cougars.

Patel and Voelker both fell short, but considered the journey as a stepping stone as they get ready to train for next year.

“I didn’t place, but I won the first before losing the next two matches,” Patel said.
Hannum placed fifth overall, and he had an impressive regular season. In addition to winning both the conference and regional competition, Hannum faced a past-champion, holding his own but falling short 6-2 in the end.

“I thought I wrestled well. It’s obviously not what I wanted, but I was pretty satisfied with my season. I was able to wrestle and win conference and regionals, which was a step up from last year, considering I was injured and couldn’t wrestle at all,” Hannum said.

Becoming a state champion doesn’t happen overnight, and with tough opponents and the pressure that comes along with participating in such a big event, wrestlers take time to learn opponents and review their performance.

“I studied my opponent more and fixed my mistakes that I noticed throughout the season, and I think that’s what really helped my performance,” Patel said.

Junior Jack Malone had the most success, taking third place at the state meet after finishing as regional runner up.
Malone left regionals wanting to work on, “just my mental preparation.”

Malone said his toughest competition came from a wrestler at Cape Fear high. The two faced off three times this year. Malone pinned him the third time.

With the loss of seniors after this season, the wrestling team will have to fill some holes if they plan to reach states and come out on top next year.

Patel and Voelker are ready for another chance next season. After experiencing the intensity that comes along with performing at states, they said that they will be ready when it comes time to compete again.

Malone was pleased with his regular season.

“I thought it was a great season, great experience, so I think I finished out a good year.”
But he also wants to improve his performance at states.

“I’m not satisfied with it, but it was the best I’ve done,” Malone said.
For the junior wrestlers, next year means completing unfinished business.

“Overall, the season was good overall. I improved a lot and learned a lot, and I look forward to next season,” Voelker said. “The outcome of states was disappointing but it will be helpful for next year,”