Jefferson's undefeated wrestling team stands to log some serious mileage on the odometer.
The Dragons (9-0) will make a 350-mile trek to Raleigh, N.C., this weekend (Friday-Saturday) to face a host of out-of-state teams and then travel some 200 miles to Pigeon Forge, Tenn. next week (Wednesday-Thursday) for more of the same when they defend their title there for the third straight year.
Jefferson hopes to return a road-tested and healthy team.
“We want to go get some good experience and not get anybody hurt,” coach Doug Thurmond said.
Despite being unbeaten through nine dual matches and having a tournament title to its credit, Jefferson is suffering from various ailments. Thurmond said.
his team is banged up right now and coping with sickness. These circumstances are out of the team’s control, of course, but still “drives you crazy anyway,” Thurmond said.
“I want to get all this mess out of the way,” he said, noting that the flu “will go through a team really quick.”
None of it has really hindered the Dragons’ performance on the mat thus far.
Since claiming the Dec. 3-4 Panther Invitational, Jefferson won seven dual matches this past week to remain unbeaten on the season.
The Dragons enjoyed a perfect run over the weekend at the Sawnee Duals Saturday at Forsyth Central, beating Milton (46-21), Forsyth Central (76-6), Cass (57-15), North Gwinnett (41-24) and North Forsyth (51-21).
Jefferson beat Woodward Academy (46-20) and Woodland (57-18) three days earlier in dual action.
Individual wrestlers winning all their matches in this seven-match stretch were Kyle Kashuba (103-lb.), Isaac Kelly (119-lb.), Cason Thurmond (125-lb.), Clay Richardson (130-lb.), Forrest Przybysz (171-lb.) and Zach Allen (215-lb.).
Jefferson had been without a wrestler at 103-lb. during the Panther Invitational due to the state’s weight descension rules, but added Kashuba who responded with seven victories.
“It was nice getting him into the lineup,” Thurmond said.
The team aims for more success in Raleigh, N.C. this weekend for the WRAL tournament against a variety of competition.
“We’ll see a lot of different teams from a lot of different states,” Thurmond said.
Then at Pigeon Forge, Jefferson will shoot for its third-straight title in that event, though Thurmond expects this year’s title defense to be much tougher with the addition of some teams from Pennsylvania.
All the while, Jefferson is still sorting out its lineup with some wrestlers still working toward lower weights.
Under the state’s descension rules for weight loss, wrestlers can only lose a certain percentage of body fat in a week. It computes to about 1.5 or two pounds a week.
“We’re getting closer to it,” Thurmond said. “There’s still a couple of guys we’ve got to get down to the weight that they want to go.”
Of course, once those wrestlers meet optimum weight, they’ll face wrestle-offs against those who currently hold starting spots in those weight classes.