Seahawks start fourth year with biggest group

Published 1:13 pm Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The Southside High School wrestling program received a youth infusion this season, boosting the number of wrestlers to 21, the largest in the four years the program has been around.

The group includes nine freshmen, eight sophomores, one junior and three seniors, including Latham Dixon in the 132 lb. class, who coach Stanley Dixon expects to have his best season yet.

“He had a solid year for us last year and he’s looked good early on,” Dixon said. “We’ve had an individual state qualifier the last two years, so he and a couple others have a chance to keep the string going.”

The Seahawks defeated East Carteret and lost to Greene Central and Ayden-Grifton in their opening quad match last week.

Dixon, Jonathan Salas (190), Mason Hodges (157), Brian Salinas (215) and Gavin Cutler (126) won their matches on the mat, while several others won by forfeit.

“We are doing much better at having somebody in each of the 14 weight classes,” Dixon said. “We have a couple still open, but having the Chocowinity Middle School program has made a huge difference with our numbers and skill level.”

Former Washington High School state champion Russ Chesson started the CMS program last year and Dixon already sees a huge dividend for his program.

“Russ is a tremendous teacher of wrestling and the kids come in here already knowing the basics and some advanced skills,” Dixon said. “In prior years we would have athletes who were interested in wrestling, but we’d have to start at the beginning. Now we can be more advanced and our practices are very competitive because we have more kids.”

Victoria Hombirg is one of the freshman who wrestled for Chesson last year and is the first female wrestler at Southside.

“Half the team already knows her and the rest of them treat her just like any other teammate,” Dixon said. “She’s a little light to be covering the 106 lb. class, but her technique is really good. She listens, works hard to improve and is aggressive in practice and in matches. She just needs to grow and stay in the weight room.”

Darren Joyner was the first Seahawks state qualifier two years ago and Elyjaih Baldwin made it last year. Dixon said that’s another reason his program continues to trend upward.

“Other kids see that and think they can do it also and decide to be part of our program,” he said. “It makes the younger guys work harder because they’ve seen somebody from Southside wrestle at the state tournament. We have a good group and we’re planning on somebody making it again this year.”