Southside wrestling program continues to grow

Published 8:05 pm Tuesday, November 22, 2022

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Coming off senior Darren (DJ) Joyner’s trip to the 2A state wrestling tournament, Southside coach Stanley Dixon is optimistic that he will have a deeper, more experienced team this winter.

Joyner became the first wrestler in school history to qualify for the state meet in the 160 lb. weight class. The talented all-around athlete helped the football team to an 8-4 record this fall at running back, receiver and defensive back and also plans to see action on the basketball hardwood this winter before participating in multiple track events this spring.

“We’re just now getting starting with winter sports, since football ended late,” Dixon said. “He (Joyner) wrestled and played basketball last winter, so I’m used to it. I hope he’s with us a lot, because he’s a pure athlete with the strength to make up for the technical part of wrestling. He’s improved a lot and is a hard worker, so we’d love for him to get back to the state meet.”

The wrestling program is in its fourth season and Dixon said the number of wrestlers has increased every year.

“The key to having a successful team is to fill every weight class and we are closer to doing that with around 15 guys this season,” he said. “We have five or six freshmen who have never wrestled and they have potential. We have more bigger kids this year and are starting to fill in the lower weight classes as well.”

Seniors Elijah Baldwin (285) and Jose Ramos (152) are back for their third year along with second-year wrestlers Latham (126) and Caleb Dixon (132).

Among the newcomers is freshman Brian Salinas (195) who started at fullback on the gridiron.

“He had two practices before his first-ever match, but picked things up quickly,” Dixon said. “He’s strong and aggressive and will be very good when he learns the technical side.”

Chocowinity Middle School has wrestling for the first time this winter under the direction of former WHS state champion Russ Chesson.

“That will help our program so much long term,” Dixon said. “Russ knows what he’s doing and it will be great to have freshmen who have mat experience.”