The numbers-challenged East Chapel Hill and Jordan wrestling teams met Wednesday night in what they call “the small gym” downstairs from Jordan’s main gym for a PAC-6 4A Conference dual meet.
The cozy atmosphere was sufficient for the small crowd, but first-year Jordan coach C.C. Fisher and second-year East Chapel Hill co-head coach Tim Clark envision a day their programs will be worthy of the big gym.
“First we’ve got to win and fill this place,” said Fisher, “before we can move up to the big gym.”
Fisher’s roster of 23 boys is ahead of ECH in the rebuilding process. The Falcons defeated the Wildcats’ 11-athlete roster bolstered by two girls with the benefit of forfeits, 75-6. ECH freshman Alexander Liu accounted for the Wildcats’ points by forfeit at 113 pounds.
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Fisher’s roster of 23 boys is ahead of East Chapel Hill in the rebuilding process. The Falcons defeated the Wildcats’ 11-athlete roster – bolstered by two girls – with the benefit of forfeits, 75-6. East’s only points were from a Jordan forfeit at 113 pounds.
“If you want a challenging but rewarding sport, we want you,” said Clark, an East Chapel Hill science teacher that shares the head coach role with an off-campus coach, Rah Shun Ball. “Right now we’re a small group, but the kids are dedicated and good teammates. We think we can keep building each year.”
Both schools are recovering from recently losing their previous head coach, but Jordan had enjoyed more success than East. Former coach Phillip Davanzo led the Falcons to the PAC-6 4A title in 2013 before he left to take the job as athletic director at his alma mater, Charlotte’s Mallard Creek.
Two freshmen on the Jordan 2013 PAC-6 championship team that are now seniors are fraternal twins Micah and Maliik Marcin. Fisher is their third coach in four varsity seasons.
“We feel like we’re the leaders and we’ve been trying to help rebuild the program,” said Micah, who won his 152-pound match by decision over sophomore Emmanuel Seyon, 14-7.
Maliik won his 170-pound match with a pin in 1 minute, 58 seconds.
“We tried to recruit guys this year,” Maliik said. “A lot of guys think it’s too hard, but we tell them if they give it a chance they’ll love it.”
Jordan won six weight classes by forfeit, but other Falcons to compete and record wins were Dwayne Odom with a pin at 126 pounds, Cody Kirby, pin at 132; Zavion Lawrence, pin at 145; and Jordan Vincent, pin at heavyweight.
One advantage to building a wrestling program is the range of weight classes. Kids of any sizes can find spot at weights ranging from 103 pounds to the 285-pound heavyweight limit. The hard part, though, is wrestling is a work sport. You can’t go through the motions in wrestling – unless you want to spend your time on your back.
East Chapel Hill has been struggling with small turnouts for many years. Former coach Jared Campbell began placing building blocks until he left for another job.
East freshman Juliet Bellion saw the small turnout as an opportunity. She had been wrestling since seventh grade, but she hadn’t thought about wrestling in high school until she heard Clark and Ball were seeking athletes.
“I thought I might as well give it a try,” said Bellion, who lost by pin at 145 pounds. “I like the training in wrestling. It’s like martial arts. It’s hard work, but you’re not working on just your arms and legs. It’s a full body sport. We’re a small team, but we’re all supportive of each other.”
It’s a young team Clark and Ball expect to feature a fuller roster when they face Jordan a year from now. They might even compete in the big gym by the time they return to Jordan in 2017-18.