Eastern Wake: Sports

New wrestling coach Mapp inherits quality cast at Knightdale

Knightdale’s Bradley Skinner locks up Clayton’s Joseph Justice in their 182-pound weight class match. Knightdale took on Clayton in wrestling in Knightdale, N.C. on Dec. 11, 2013. Knightdale won 57-20.
Knightdale’s Bradley Skinner locks up Clayton’s Joseph Justice in their 182-pound weight class match. Knightdale took on Clayton in wrestling in Knightdale, N.C. on Dec. 11, 2013. Knightdale won 57-20. newsobserver.com

Technique, stamina and strength.

Those are the three tenets of Jermod Mapp’s coaching strategy. This winter will mark the first season Mapp puts that strategy to the test as the head coach of the wrestling team at Knightdale High.

“I think we have a pretty good nucleus,” Mapp said, after a cursory look at his new squad. Practice just recently began for the Knights, and the season is sure to be a learning process for both the first-year coach and his athletes.

Mapp is lucky enough to inherit some quality wrestlers from last year’s team. Knightdale finished second only to West Johnston in the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference tournament last February.

Headlining the holdovers from last season are the Skinner twins, Brandon and Bradley. They are seniors and the unquestioned leaders at Knightdale this year.

Bradley Skinner competed at the 182-pound weight class as a junior. He won the GNRC individual championship at that weight, pinning East Wake’s Markus Mayner in less than a minute. He was also invited to Greensboro to compete in the state championships later that month, although he was eliminated from contention with a 1-2 record on the big mat.

Brandon Skinner had the slightly more impressive junior campaign, dominating in the 170-pound weight class. After taking out Clayton’s Chad Sprouse in the GRNC individual championships, he was named Most Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament.

Brandon then joined his brother in Greensboro, where he earned fifth place in the state for his weight class.

“We’re expecting another big year from the Skinner twins,” Mapp said. “They will turn some heads. We’re hoping they’ll go far in regionals and into states.”

While Knightdale has quite the one-two punch in the senior siblings, it’s the third, underrated Skinner who has Mapp most excited. Andrew Skinner will attempt to step out from behind his older brothers’ combined shadow this season.

“Andrew could be the biggest surprise,” Mapp said, “because no one knows what to expect from him yet.”

Although he has yet to designate their weight classes, Mapp also singled out Bobby Samuels and Nick Lopez as a couple lighter wrestlers he expects to stand out.

“They’re going to be solid starters,” Mapp said. “They’ll win some matches for us.”

Mapp thinks he can help improve an already stellar wrestling program at Knightdale. His coaching philosophy requires the grooming of a smart, disciplined and strong team.

“I don’t know how things were before I got here, but, me personally, I like to stay on the attack,” Mapp said. “And I’m big on technique. Once you get behind in points and start trying making up for that, you make mistakes and lose the match.”

To get a good idea at what Mapp wants Knightdale wrestling to resemble, Hunter McClellan may be the athlete to examine. He may not be the most refined Knight, but McClellan is a hard-working heavyweight who Mapp says he can count on to grind out three rounds and pick up the gritty wins.

Mapp didn’t mince words when he described McClellan as “the epitome of Knightdale wrestling.”

Mapp has reasonable expectations for the Knights in his first season at the helm.

“Of course we want to win the conference,” Mapp said. “First, we have to be competitive, and we’ll go from there.”

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