As the season kicks off for the Banks County wrestling team, Coach Kasey Hanley expects big things.
"We have solid returners in Angel Cruze, Kellon Walley, Jacob Voyles, Cade Herrin, Roman Haynes, Mason Dodd and Elijah Mullins," Coach Hanley said. "I am also extremely excited about the freshmen class. Cam Cooper, Aucy Jacobs, Clay Smith, Drake McDonald and Dylan Smith all have been wrestling for a long time. Experience brings so much to the program that I expect our team to go far, all the way to state."
The team earned a state championship and several region titles. Unfortunately, last season the team fell short at Macon in the individual competitions. Hanley stated that the team's focus this year will be to understand what it takes to believe that each wrestler can win both mentally and physically.
"We are going to work on confidence, we have the ability, and now we definitely have the chemical makeup necessary to be on that podium in both team and individual competitions," the coach added.
The team has faced several competitions this November and has already produced wins, including at Panther Scramble on November 13 and Johnson High School on November 16. At Johnson, the team beat West Hall 46-36 and Johnson 58-24.
Angel Cruz came in 2nd at Johnson High School, Elijah Mullins was 3rd, Danny Evans came in 4th.
"We were missing many of our starters because they had just finished up football the night before," Hanley said. "Danny literally came back late the night before but showed up ready to go for us. Angel stepped up big for us and beat a wrestler that was 4th in AAAAA State. He wrestled very well for us. He does the extra things and puts in the work. Angel is never satisfied with just a win, but he looks at the quality of the win."
Another wrestler that Hanley is impressed with is freshman Joseph Armstrong. Armstrong is new to the Banks County program and a former Johnson High student. Hanley credits the win of the match to Armstrong.
'He saved the match for us," Hanley said "He went 2-0. He is doing very well for us, and we expect some great things from him. He was the hero of the night."
Hanley is confident that the team will pick up more wins as the season progresses and his starters return.
"Wrestling takes time when you are transitioning from another sport," Hanley said. "It is just the nature of the sport. But, in reality, all these matches are practice until we reach area and state."
The team will be at the Inferno in Elbert County on November 23 and at Lumpkin to face Lumpkin and Temple High School.