CHARLOTTESVILLE — A year after watching Jared Waterman win a sectional championship, Eastern Hancock wrestling coach Keith Oliver said he believes this may be the year the team, as a complete unit, makes its mark.
“Jared winning sectional last year was big, not only for him, but for our program,” Oliver said. “The biggest thing was it showed that Eastern Hancock can compete. It showed that the little schools can get it done and compete with the biggest schools. Success is big, and it breeds championships. We are hoping we can get a little more success this postseason.”
In order to get that done, Eastern Hancock will have to not only overcome the fact that it is forced to forfeit matches at 106 pounds, but it has to deal with a tough New Castle squad, which is known for winning sectional crowns.
The Royals finished third a season ago with 150.5 total points, falling only to champion New Castle and Centerville.
Story continues below gallery
The goal this year is simple, according to Oliver — bust through the ceiling and capture a title.
“I still think we have the right guys to win. We have individuals who, if we can get them in the top four, we stand a chance of winning. New Castle is tough, and then you throw in Knightstown, Shenandoah and us; we are all right there. We have to wrestle well in order for it to happen,” Oliver said.
One thing that helps, according to Oliver, is the fact that his team has yet to put its best foot forward.
“Across the board, from 113 up, we have great guys. The big thing is nobody has reached their potential yet,” he said. “We aren’t even close. I don’t think people know how good this team can be. We’ve told the kids how good they can be.”
Eastern Hancock has put forth a quality season, carrying an 18-5 record following a 5-0 showing at the Eastern Hancock Invitational on Saturday.
“We’ve had a good season. We have wrestled Avon, Fishers, Danville, Terre Haute North and Lafayette Jefferson. Those are programs that are typically bigger and among the best, and we can see that if we can compete with them, we can compete with anyone,” Oliver said.
On Saturday, the Royals collected wins against Indiana School for the Deaf (52-18), Hagerstown (63-9), Crispus Attucks (53-9), John Marshall (78-0) and Brebeuf (78-6).
Jordyn Wills (132), Gabe Blake (138), Waterman (152), Brandon Francis (160), Wes Myers (195), Mitch Guinn (220) and Josh Robinson (heavyweight) all posted 5-0 records.
Jack Smith (113), Jayson Bowers (145), Dakota Myers (170), and Devin Brinson (182) all finished 4-1.
“It wasn’t a bad outing. Hagerstown is battling some injuries, and the Indiana School for the Deaf is good. Frankton, Anderson and Lapel have expressed interest in being a part of this in the future,” Oliver said. “I am a big believer that you schedule 50 percent of your matches against nothing but good teams and the other 50 percent against average. We continue to work and build for the sectional tournament.”