There is little doubt that this Enloe wrestling team is a far cry from the one that trudged its way to a 3-22 record two years ago.
As for ascension toward the top of the Cap-8 Conference, however, there is still much work to be done for the Eagles, who failed in their bid to reach .500 in league competition with a 48-30 loss to visiting Sanderson on Thursday evening.
Sanderson, which has claimed at least a share of the Cap-8 regular-season title each of the past five seasons, won six of 11 matches on the mat. The Spartans also benefited from a pair of forfeit victories at 195 and 220 pounds, respectively, before concluding the match with Bradley Hughes’ 25-second pin of Rykeem McMillian at 285.
“I feel as if we have a group of guys that are committed to the program,” said first-year Enloe coachMatt Busch, whose squad fell to 2-4 in the Cap-8 and 7-13 overall with the loss. “I’m looking to build. Throughout this year, I’ve been adding more wrestlers. My goal at this point is to keep as many as I can and to have them wrestle in the offseason and work hard.
“I’m proud of the outcome of the match; they fought hard.”
Also garnering victories by fall for Sanderson were Caide Smith (113 pounds), Aaron Geter (132), Adrian Davenport (138), Marquise Bowens (145) and Damarius Jones (152). Jones’ pin of Rayshawn McMillian in 3 minutes, 40 seconds of their bout put Sanderson up 30-12 and sealed the outcome.
“Enloe is not a bad team, they have a lot of scrappy kids and they gave our kids a fight,” Sanderson coach Nic Shriner said. “Our kids still need to improve on their technique, there were a lot of things we miscued on that we go over on in practice that they have to get better at. Some of that is youth and some of that is (nerves).”
Enloe made it more than respectable late, winning three straight matches by fall to knot the score at 30 as Ethan Hoffman (160), Ian Tisdale (170) and San Bae (182) all pinned their opponents.
Earlier, Kirk Broadbelt (113) and Bowen Beaty (126) won matches by fall for Enloe. Beaty, who pinned Woody Wisz in 2:20, has been in Busch’s mind the most significant component in his team’s growth over the past year.
A second-year wrestler who struggled mightily last season, Beaty has compiled a respectable 19-8 record this season and has emerged as a leader on and off the mat for Enloe.
“I really attribute a lot of the character of the team to his hard work and determination,” Busch said.
Beaty for his part is excited about having a role in changing the wrestling culture at Enloe.
“Last year, I was lower on the totem pole, and then I went to club (wrestling) over the summer, and that really put me up on a higher level,” said Beaty, a junior whose most significant goal is trying to qualify for the state tournament. “I think I’m doing better this season, at least my record says so, and I just try to keep the guys with a positive attitude.
“I’m by a long shot not the greatest wrestler on this team, but I like to think I can help these kids by showing that if you don’t quit and work hard, you can get what you want, because that’s what I did.”