RALEIGH — The story is getting to be a familiar one told by Athens Drive wrestling coach Sean Finkbeiner.
“We beat a team that beat up on us last year,” he said.
In his second year, Finkbeiner’s Jaguars are continuing the climb up in conference superiority. On Wednesday, they defeated Green Hope 48-33.
Last year, this was a 42-33 loss.
“We’re now all about team building,” said Athens senior Mahmoud Ghuweir, who improved to 14-5 in the 195-pound class. “We support each other.”
Those with prior experience and those without have turned into year-round wrestlers.
“We try to lift and get in the mat room as much as possible, so we started lifting on Sundays after tournaments and getting practices in over break,” said junior Grant Finkbeiner.
Athens Drive (13-6, 3-2) also defeated Ravenscroft 52-18 on the night as part of the four-team meet. In an odd twist, Green Hope lost to all three Southeast Raleigh wrestlers it faced, but won 60-18 thanks to the heavy dose of forfeits.
Green Hope (4-9, 1-4) has one of the conference’s youngest teams with only three seniors and 19 freshmen and sophomores. Senior Ian Callahan (195 pounds), sophomore Keanu Gonzalez (heavyweight) and juniors Matt Mason (182) and Michael Eastwood lead the team in wins.
“We didn’t match-up very well with (Athens). Right where they’re strong is where we have our younger guys,” Green Hope coach Steve Gursslin said.
Athens has just two teams left in the conference schedule. And with just three seniors themselves, coach Finkbeiner says the last step for getting the program fully on track will be this offseason.
“We have a lot of second-year wrestlers and first-year wrestlers also. I’m looking forward to us working hard all summer. Next year, we‘re going to lose weight and be more competitive.”
Blake: 919-460-2606; Twitter: @JMBpreps