Mooresville’s not the favorite, but not a pushover
by Staff Writer
by Cliff Mehrtens
MOORESVILLE – The Mooresville High wrestling team is flying a bit under the radar this season.
“Rebuilding,” Blue Devils coach Ben Watson said.
Perhaps, but it’s not a complete makeover.
In each of the past two seasons, Mooresville won the I-MECK 4A conference tournament after finishing second in the regular season. Most of the core of those two talented squads graduated last spring, which led to Watson’s assessment. But he’s got some building blocks remaining.
“In our starting lineup from two years ago, we only have one guy (Sam Crisp) remaining,” Watson said. “We lost a lot of veteran wrestlers, so we have a lot of young guys stepping in.”
Mooresville is 15-10 in dual-team matches, where one Blue Devils wrestler in each of 14 weight classes competes against the other school’s wrestler. Watson said his team doesn’t have the solid lineup you need to win a lot of dual meets, but “we have kids who’re willing to work hard and they’re doing a good job for us.”
In a dual meet, a team’s best wrestler can only compete in one of 14 matches, making depth vital for a championship team. It’s unlike football, where a team can give multiple carries to a running back, or basketball, where one player can take plenty of shots.
Mooresville may not dominate in every weight class, but it does have some solid wrestlers who will challenge for conference and regional titles. An upside for a wrestler is that even if he’s buried on a so-so team, the sport also has individual championships. That doesn’t happen in most other team sports.
Crisp, a senior who competes in the 106-pound division is 31-2. He won individual championships at the WRAL and Beef O’Brady tournaments, which included wrestlers from more than 30 schools. He was second in the Tiger Holiday Classic at Chapel Hill High School, which had 37 schools competing.
“I’ve been wrestling pretty good, I’m light on my feet,” said Crisp, who was a regional champion last season. “I just need to keep going hard and treat every match like it’s the same. It is a mental game.”
Crisp said he doesn’t mind being a team leader, reminding teammates to occasionally quiet down and pay attention.
“I tell them these four years are very valuable, and they need to absorb as much in moves and technique as you can,” he said.
Said Watson: “Sam is in attack mode 24/7. He’s a fierce competitor ready to get after you. He’s overwhelming.”
Dontrez Patterson is 33-7 in the 182-pound division. He finished fifth at the WRAL and Tiger tournaments.
“Dontrez has great hand strength,” Watson said. “This season he’s honed in on a double-leg attack. He’s getting better at that.”
Mooresville also has been effective with Kane Price (28-13 at 138 pounds), Jamie Wright (28-12 at 120 pounds) and Pierce Conger (23-11 at 132 pounds).
Jarred Brooks, a senior transfer from wrestling-crazy Pennsylvania, has been a key addition. He’s 34-6 at 152 pounds and finished fourth at the Tiger tournament.
“You never know what you’re going to get from someone out of state, but he’s been nothing but a great attitude and a pleasure to coach,” Watson said. “Jarred is a go-getter. He’s moving the whole match. He has great feel of a match. He’s what we call a scrambler.”
Brooks adjusted well to a new school and different teammates. He’d had the same wrestling coach the past 12 years in Pennsylvania, who died soon after Brooks moved.
“Coming down here, I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “It was kind of awkward because I’ve been in so many (wrestling) rooms. But I think after the Blue Devil Duals (the opener Nov. 20), everybody found out how serious I was.”
Brooks is ranked fifth by retrorankings.com in the N.C. 4A’s 152-pound division. Crisp is third in state rankings in his weight class, and Patterson is sixth.
Teamwise, Hough and Lake Norman are favored to be the contenders in the I-MECK 4A conference. Mooresville will wrestle each in dual-team competition – Hough on Jan. 29 and Lake Norman on Feb. 6.
“Even though they’re young, the kids still have the determination to keep going after it,” Brooks said. “We have a bunch of freshmen out there trying to win matches for us. We have some weak spots, but I love that we’re all trying. I’m glad they’re here.”