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Comet wrestlers shorthanded heading into shortened season

SoVaNow.com / December 31, 2020


Halifax County High School wrestling will be shorthanded heading into the delayed sports season.

The Comets have four grapplers.

Two seniors, J.T. Francis at the 145 pound weight category, and Alex Driggs at 152. Freshman Colin MaBe is listed at 106, and junior Colin Saunders comes in at 126.

“We have had an interesting but somewhat successful start to the season so far. We got a couple of weeks of conditioning in November before all sports had conditioning put on hold. Dec. 14 was the official start for practice in wrestling for the entire state, so we were lucky in the fact that we did not lose any time there like some of the other sports did,” said coach David Riddle.

“Coach (Jay) Cole and I have been pleased with what we have seen so far out of this group. We have a small group this year, but we figured that was going to be the case with everything going on in general. But talking with other coaches around the area and looking at other rosters, most schools are seeing situations very similar to what we are dealing with.

“Our goal is to get as many actual matches for our guys in all of our dual and tri meets,” said Riddle.

“That may mean our guys wrestling up a weight class from time to time or competing against wrestlers from other teams wrestling up a class as well,” said Riddle.

“Alex Driggs is our most experienced returning wrestler. He is fresh off of making it to states last year. Driggs set a goal coming into last year to get to states, and now since he has accomplished that goal he looking to advance farther and place at states this year. Alex is a very goal oriented person. We have not put the pressure on him, he has simply taken it upon himself to get more offseason work and conditioning in and should have a monster season this year,” Riddle said.

Colin Saunders, like Driggs, is coming into his third season. He had his first season cut short due to injury, but came back strong last season, placing in many of the weekend tournaments. He also has experience from years with the Halifax youth wrestling program and the coaches are looking for him to have a big season.

J.T. Francis is in his second year with the team. Francis had a difficult first year, but most of his matches were against wrestlers with three to four years of varsity experience.

“He had one of the toughest weight classes around. J.T. is always wanting to learn more and has come a long way from last year. If he can keep up the work that he is putting in during practice he could see a great deal of success this year,” said Riddle.

Colin Mabe was able to be a member of the team as an eighth grader last year. While he was not able to wrestle varsity matches, he was able to work with the team and get some exhibition experience in. Like Saunders, he has Halifax youth wrestling experience as well, and had an extremely successful career there. Mabe should be one of the tougher wrestlers in the 106 class in the area.

“As athletes and coaches, this year is already unlike any that we have seen, and will continue to be that way. We will not have the weekend individual and dual tournaments that have long been a part of the program, rather having dual and tri meets during the week to cut down on the number of wrestlers in the buildings. Many of those weekend tournaments hosted anywhere from eight-16 teams and we simply cannot do that during this time. The state tournament is also going to see only two wrestlers from each weight class advance out of regionals, down from four in the past,” said Riddle.

“While it looks and feels different, we are all happy just to be getting the opportunity to have a season. Coach Cole and I are taking the safety precautions seriously, as are the athletes. While we cannot create an NBA bubble-type situation, we are working hard to follow the guidelines both during practice and outside of the building as well. These guys all love the sport and are just looking for a chance to compete and advance in the postseason,” said Riddle.

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