Trying to catch the West; wrestlers get extra mat time

Published 8:09 pm Monday, April 11, 2022

Washington High School’s wrestling program has been among the best in the east over the last few years with eight straight conference titles, multiple weight class champions and good success in the dual and individual state tournaments.

Northside and Southside have fledging programs as well. The Panthers qualified for the dual team state tournament in only their second year, while the Seahawks sent junior D.J. Joyner to the individual state meet.

However, in WHS coach Chris Penhollow’s mind, the east falls short when matched up with opponents from the western part of the state and he’s doing something to potentially bring about long-term change.

“The schools out west get their kids started in club programs when they are very young, so they know the fundamentals when they get to high school,” he said. “We are trying to cut into that a little bit with a new program.”

Enter former NCAA champion and Beaufort County resident Carl Perry, who won the 141 lb. national title in 2000, while wrestling for the University of Illinois.

Perry, a Virginia Beach native, has started the Relentless Wrestling Club to help area youngsters improve their skills.

“He started this in the fall and has outgrown the previous facility,” Penhollow said. “He asked to use our practice area and I’m all for promoting wrestling in our area, so I said yes.”

Workouts are Tuesday and Sunday through May 29 and the rest of April is free. There is a $50 fee for older wrestlers and it’s $25 for those just starting. The younger kids wrestle from 6-7 p.m. on Tuesday, with the older ones from 7-8 p.m. and all wrestlers need a USA Wrestling card.

The beginners are from 1-2 p.m. on Sunday with the older ones from 2-3 p.m.

“We are lucky to have Carl in our area and his club is a great way for all our area wrestlers to learn from a national champion, Penhollow said. “It’s good for my guys and the kids from our other schools to hear instruction from someone else. The way he teaches the same technique might click better. It will help our region if we can focus on strength and conditioning in high school instead of that plus fundamentals. I’m excited and hope our numbers continue to grow.