Pam Pack coach, wrestlers have interesting wager

Published 3:26 pm Wednesday, February 14, 2018

There are some interesting rituals connected to wrestling. One of the most widely observed is bleaching hair for high-profile matches in the dual-team playoffs and individual championships.

An agreement between Washington coach Chris Penhollow and his five wrestlers competing for individual titles in Greensboro this week is as peculiar as they come.

“Coach Penhollow hasn’t worn pants in like two years. The last time he wore pants was to his daughter’s wedding,” top-ranked 182-pounder Drew Ferguson joked.

Penhollow has said each season that competing for a championship — whether that’s an individual or a dual-team first-place bout — would warrant him dressing to the nines in a suit. It’s rare to spot the Pam Pack coach not in a pair of shorts, so the wager has been a source of motivation for the team for years.

“Making it to the finals and seeing him in a suit and a pair of pants would be amazing,” Ferguson said. “Not only for me, but for the team and the Beaufort County school system. It would just be a great thing for everybody. I’m ready to see it.”

Ferguson stands the best chance of making Penhollow pay up this weekend. He won the eastern-regional championship and the top-overall seed in his weight class. His fourth-place finish last season was the best placement in Penhollow’s 12 years coaching.

“I had one kid get to the semis when I was at Farmville. He lost to the state champion in the semis by one point,” Penhollow said. “(Ferguson) is plenty confident. He’s healthy. He’s feeling good.

“I’ll pack my suit up. I take it every year, but never get to take it out of the closet. It’s a joke with these guys that they’ve never seen me in pants. Each year they say, ‘We’ve got to get somebody to the finals so Penhollow has to put on pants.’”

Joining Ferguson are Carson Asby, Logan Nichols, Henry Jennings and Mitchell Cobb. Penhollow said he likes the draws for most of the first-round bouts. The toughest one, he said, is Jennings’. His opponent was ranked No. 1 at 138 pounds all season until being upset in the regional-championship match.

“It’s just luck of the draw. We’re going to get him and he’s not going to be happy after losing in the finals,” Penhollow said. “He’s going to be one of the kids in the mix to win it at 138. But Henry wrestles funky. He rides legs. A lot of guys don’t see that.”

Asby finished second in the east to North Carolina commit Jeremiah Derby. However, if they were to run into each other at the state championships, it wouldn’t be until the gold-medal round.

Cobb made a run last week to earn a trip to Greensboro. He beat foes from Greene Central and North Pitt on the way. Cobb isn’t too preoccupied with his matchup, though. He’s just happy to be going.

“He’s just glad to be getting another weekend in. He’s doesn’t care who he’s wrestling. He just wants to get on the mat,” Penhollow said. “There are a lot of kids that were crying and would give anything.”

Penhollow added that he’s seen plenty from Nichols’ first-round opponent. However, he’ll run into the No. 1 overall seed at 220 pounds in the second round.

Washington’s five representatives will begin the individual state championships Thursday evening in Greensboro. The competition will conclude Saturday.