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Preparing for the new normal





Bluestone grapplers prep for new season / November 20, 2019
The Bluestone wrestling team has been hard at work over the last week getting prepared for the 2019-2020 season.

The program saw success last year when Neil Clayton Jr. and Alex “Tank” Hardy won their respective divisions in the VHSL Region 2 tournament and advanced to the state championships.

Clayton, now a senior, went on to win the VHSL state championship in the 220-pound division. Hardy, who graduated this year, suffered an early loss in the state tourney’s 285-pound division and was unable to move on to the championship round.

Coach Troy Moore said this year’s team hopes to build upon what they accomplished last season.

“We’ve got anywhere from 15-17 guys out this season,” Moore said. “A lot of middle schoolers this year — it’s our second year doing middle school [wrestling] which is awesome. You know, wrestling is a new sport here in the county so, just trying to get kids to come out.”

Moore said wrestling can be an intimidating sport to try out for, especially for younger kids. He added that seeing the number of middle school student-athletes that have come out this year was, “really exciting.”

“Practice has been going well with so many new wrestlers. It’s a very technical sport so you have to break stuff down and it takes a while. So, you’ve got to make sure everybody is here every day, because if you’re not, you are lost.”

Moore said that while Clayton will be their top wrestler this season, he is also excited about Landon Lyles returning.

“We’re expecting good things out of Landon Lyles this year,” Moore said. [I’m] just really excited about him. He’s a junior going into his second year of wresting.”

Moore noted that Clayton will be facing some of the same wrestlers this season he defeated last year to make it to the state championship. He feels confident Clayton will be able to hold his own.

“The other crazy thing is that most of the kids that wrestled last year at the state tournament were sophomores and juniors, so most of those guys will be back too,” Moore said. “You know we obviously invite the challenge and just the way he (Clayton) dismantled his bracket last year I’m not nervous at all for him.

Clayton said he, too, is looking forward to a solid season and encourages his teammates to keep pushing no matter what the odds are.

“In general, everybody is looking good,” Clayton said. “A lot of progression, a lot of newcomers coming out and I really believe we’re going to have a great season this year.”

“What I’m looking for is to not give up, nobody on the team gives up. Give it your all, win or lose, give it your all. It’s all about heart.”

Jason Cody returns as an assistant coach for Bluestone. Cody wrestled at Southern Virginia University in Buena Vista for four years and brings collegiate level wrestling experience to the Barons.

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