Northside wrestling program continues upward trend

Published 4:21 pm Friday, November 25, 2022

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Northside’s wrestling program has come a long way in a short time and coach Daniel Garcia expects progress to continue this winter.

Garcia, a former Washington High School wrestler and assistant coach started the program in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and saw an almost immediate reward as the team qualified for the 1A state tournament last year in just the second year of competition.

Two seniors graduated, but more young wrestlers joined the team, so Garcia is hopeful the success will continue.

“Making the state tournament as a team was a little unexpected last year, but we finished the regular season very strong and gave ourselves a chance,” Garcia said. “We needed all the mat time we could get and even though we lost to a state powerhouse in Rosewood, our trip there was a tremendous learning experience. Our guys saw all their trophies and how important wrestling is there and I’m sure some of that rubbed off.”

The Panthers match schedule has doubled to 12, with all of them featuring at least two or three opponents. The quality of opponent has improved also as Garcia added D.H. Conley, Ayden-Grifton and Tarboro, among others to the slate.

“I want to go head on against the bigger teams, so we are ready for post-season,” Garcia said. “It’s great that I can think that way in just our third year, but we need to do more than just keep building up the roster. We film all our matches and our guys will learn faster if they see areas to improve on while wrestling great competition.”

Garcia is counting on all 25 wrestlers on the roster to contribute at some point, with returning seniors Liam Paul, Nick Roberts and Ronan Lewis leading the way. Juniors Gus Vansant and Landon Buck also return along with several newcomers.

“We’ve filled all but two weight classes, which will help the program have more success,” Garcia said. “The next step is to establish a feeder program from Northeast and Bath Elementary, which we are working on. We have a good blend of returnees and young guys and I’m looking forward to continuing our progress.”