The Berkeley High School wrestling team is in its second season under coach Greg Hutchinson.
Last winter, the Stags placed third in the Region 7-AAAAA standings and lost to Ashley Ridge High School in the opening round of the playoffs. They’re aiming to better those marks this season but have dealt with some speed bumps early.
“We’ve had a rough start,” Hutchinson said. “We had a state placer transfer. We had a three-year starter that didn’t want to wrestle. We lost another starter to injury. We’re wrestling a lot of young kids.”
Despite the obstacles, Hutchinson is optimistic it all comes together by season’s end thanks to the work the Stags put in during the offseason. They’re further along this campaign than they were at this point last winter.
“It’s just been a lot of hard work,” Hutchinson said. “This summer we lifted three days a week and we had a camp. It was good-ole fashioned grunt work. The kids are starting to buy in. I was the juniors’ fourth head coach. Now they realize I’m part of the program and I’m going to be here. The more stable the program is, the better we’re going to get.”
The group returning is led by senior Gavin Canady, a two-time state placer. Canady has qualified for state at 138 and 145 yards and is a 152-pounder.
More returners with substantial experience are Omega White (132), Omar Shaheed (138), Luke Gadsden (160), Adam Vinson (195) and Jacques Coaxum (heavyweight).
The Stags are trying to figure it out at the lighter weight classes where they lost one starter to an injury. First-year wrestler Edgar Vasquez is at 106 pounds and Hutchinson said Berkeley doesn’t have a 113-pounder yet. The 120-pound spot is by committee.
John Reece and Aiden Holt are in the mix at 126 and 132 pounds while Alfred Manalac and Manuel Contreras compete at 145 pounds.
Tommy Green is wrestling at 170 and 182 pounds.
A first-year competitor faring well at 220 pounds is Timothy Cooper, who was 10-0 after the Cane Bay Duals Dec. 14.
“Right now we’ve got a lot of weights up in the air,” Hutchinson said. “We need some guys to step up and take some ownership.”