Ferguson, Pam Pack laser focused at regional

Published 4:51 pm Friday, February 9, 2018

NEWPORT — Drew Ferguson and the Washington wrestling team have unfinished business.

After suffering a roster setback and being dismissed in the second round of the dual-team playoffs, the Pam Pack has set its sights on this weekend’s regional championships for individual competitors.

The goal? Washington seeks to send as many representatives to the state championships next week in Greensboro. No Pam Pack wrestler stands a better chance than Ferguson, who has been ranked among the top 182-pound wrestlers in 2-A throughout the season.

“We took a little two-day break to relax and get our minds off the loss,” Ferguson said of how the team has approached preparing since the dual-team elimination. “We’ve been in the practice room getting ready for regionals so we can send as many as we can.”

There has been a sort of palpable tension in Washington’s upstairs weight rooms where the team practices. The wrestlers spent sessions running drills to fine tune everything. After all, there’s not much to change at this point in the season.

“It’s hard. In the back of our head, we knew we should have won that match,” Ferguson said. “We’ve just got to look forward to states and hope that we can all bring back some medals, bring back some gold. We want to represent Washington as best we can.”

Each wrestler had that chip on his shoulder when traveling to Croatan on Friday for the first night of the regional championships. Washington has struggled to get over the hump when it comes to the dual-team playoffs.

In past years, individuals have found solace in being able to bear the Pam Pack banner at the state level as individual competitors. In fact, Washington went into last year’s event hoping to finish among the best teams in 2-A when it comes to team scores.

Washington (48 points) finished in a three-way tie for 10th last year in Greensboro. Carrboro (137) and Chase (100) ran away with first and second. After that, though, 25 points separated third and 10th places.

For Ferguson, last year’s trip to Greensboro provides added motivation. As a junior, he had a crop of elite senior wrestlers to go up against in the 182-pound division.

“The losses for the team and myself,” he said of what burns in the back of his mind. “The pain of losing and fighting not to feel that pain again, especially this year and last year since I’ve been one of the higher wrestlers in the state. I’m trying to just focus on getting on the mat, getting my pins and getting off.

“Last year was a little stressful. There was a kid who took second the year before and ended up winning it. I definitely went into it an underdog, but to come out of a weight class of 16 that had like 10 seniors and to come out No. 4 was a very good accomplishment.”

Before getting to Greensboro, Ferguson and his teammates have to take care of business this weekend. He’s intent on locking down the east’s No. 1 seed at 182 pounds. Getting that seed means he won’t be sneaking up on any of his opponents.

“I’m definitely a target, but I may be an underdog to some of the guys out west that I haven’t seen yet. They’re working hard, but I haven’t seen them at all this year,” Ferguson said. “There are some guys I look forward to seeing in the semis or the state finals next week.”