Pack duo persues state glory

Published 9:28 pm Monday, February 20, 2012

Washington wrestlers Jason Gardner (left) and Thomas Remick will both be representing the Pam Pack in the NCHSAA 3-A state championship meet Thursday at the Greensboro Coliseum. (WDN Photo/Brian Haines)

Though their paths have different beginnings their destination is the same as Washington’s duo of sophomore wrestlers Jason Gardner and Thomas Remick will both be headed to the Greensboro Coliseum on Thursday for the NCHSAA 3-A state meet.
For Gardner, his journey to the state meet was all but destined as he follows in the footsteps of older brothers Bryant and Gabe, who have both represented Washington at the Big Dance.
There’s no such Pam Pack legacy for Remick, who transferred to WHS this year from Charlotte’s South Lake High School, but with a successful outing at the state meet he could quickly change that.
Remick and Gardner’s point of origin is not the only place they differ. Standing side by side, Remick’s wirey 6-foot, 145-pound frame allows him to stand head and shoulders above the 5-foot-3-inch, 113-pound Gardner, but when it comes to how they approach their craft the Pam Pack duo might as well be twins.
“It’s not a big surprise that they have both made it this far,” Washington’s sixth-year coach Daniel Riggs said. “Both of them are hard workers and are dedicated to the sport and to the team.”
While the fact that they made it to the state tourney was not a surprise, who they will wrestle in the first round will be because of Riggs’ preference that his athlete’s focus remain internal during the double-elimination meet.
“I know they’re probably wondering who they are wrestling but I won’t let them know,” Riggs said. “I have already looked at it and both of the kids that they are going to be wrestling have good records but they are both beatable. Neither one of them is undefeated. It’s possible for (Gardner and Remick) to beat them as long as they go there and don’t make any mistakes and give it 100 percent.”
Riggs, who has presided over three state champion wrestlers in six years with the Pack, places a major emphasis on concentrating at the task at hand. That advice was critical for Remick, whose slow start at the regional meet almost kept him from advancing.
“I lost a match on my first day against a guy who I had already lost to (during the regular season) and it discouraged me at first,” Remick said. “The next day Coach Riggs and the coaching staff came up to me and said listen “it’s time to go.”
“I knew I really, really wanted it so I decided to take it one match at a time and not think about anything else. I just went at it full speed and tried leave everything on the mat.”
Both Gardner and Remick will bring that same approach to the state meet where they will look to employ a “shoot first” strategy.
“I’m tall and lanky so I like taking shots,” Remick said. “I have long arms so that’s just my style.”
For Gardner, striking first will also be vital.
“Most of the time I try to get the first shot,” Gardner said. “I want to be the first one to shoot.”
Gardner, whose brother Gabe placed fifth in the state three years ago, is quick to soak up knowledge from his siblings as well as his coach.
“He’s good because he is very coachable and he is always asking questions and trying to improve and make himself a better wrestler,” Riggs said. “He’s probably one of the hardest workers that’s been in the program this year and the last couple of years.”
Gardner and Remick’s work ethic will be put to the test in the upcoming days as they look to improve upon their individual weaknesses before the big meet.
“Jason needs to work hard from the bottom. His weakest point is at the bottom position and we’re going to try to work on that the next couple of days,” Riggs said. “Thomas just has to be more physical and mentally prepared for what’s in front of him.”
At the end of the day, they key for both young wrestlers is to learn from the experience and build for the future.
“I just tell them to go have fun and try their best,” Riggs said. “If they go out in two it’s still a good experience and will help them the next few years because they are both sophomores, but if they have a chance to win or place I want them to go after it.”