The West Lincoln Rebels wrestle the best in their pursuit to be the best. Yes, you can look at head coach Butch Ross and say heâ€™s the best or you can look at the outstanding Chiefsâ€™ middle school program (who last season had a winning streak snapped at 90 matches). But just as relevant to the Rebelsâ€™ success is their wrestling schedule.
Last week, they defeated back-to-back 3A state champion, the East Gaston Warriors. Ross is an adamant believer in scheduling tough opponents.
â€œItâ€™s a big win. Anytime you can beat a program the quality of East Gaston it gives you a lot of confidence. Theyâ€™re well-coached and well-disciplined. Theyâ€™ll come at you and you know youâ€™ll be always be wrestling good people,â€ he said.
The idea is that in scheduling in tough opponents; it will make 2A competition seem not as viable.
â€œThatâ€™s the reason we schedule them. We know that wrestling people of that quality is only going to make you better and will help you out when you get to February,â€ Ross said.
Itâ€™s working, the Rebels are 12-0 heading into this weekendâ€™s tournament that will feature Tuscola, Alleghany, St. Stephens, South West Guilford, Shelby, Lincolnton and Kings Mountain.
Leading West Lincoln is Antonio Rojo who is 19-0 on the season. The heavyweight, who was last yearâ€™s 2A State Runner-Up, is three wins away from tying Cory Normanâ€™s all-time record of 123. Ross believes the scope of what Rojo is about to accomplish canâ€™t be overstated.
â€œIt will be a big accomplishment when you look at the history and the tradition that West Lincoln has had and the quality of wrestlers that have been through the program.â€
So what makes Rojo such a solid talent?
â€œHeâ€™s a hard worker. Heâ€™s a good athlete. Heâ€™s dedicated a lot of time to the sport and he puts in extra time,â€
Other leaders for the Rebels are (weight class then record) : John Harkey 103 pounds 18-3, Zac Elmore 119 pounds 8-1, Jeremy Pearson 125 pounds 13-3, Matt Avery 130 pounds 15-2, Zeb Elmore 135 pounds 15-2, Logan Shronce 140 pounds10-5, Dustin Hester 152 pounds 16-2, Daniel Scronce 160 pounds 12-6 and Daniel Soto 12-4.
Clash of the Titans at West Forsyth out of 22 teams. Teams from North Carolina and Tennessee. West placed second behind Davie County who is a strong contender for the 4A crown.
West has 10 senior starters who will be very instrumental to this yearâ€™s dash for the 2A State crown.
â€œTheir leadership has been excellent. They lead by example more than hollering or anything. They work hard, have them stretching and ready to go without me saying anything. After practice, they run extra just on their own,â€ Ross said of the 10 starters who routinely run between one-three miles after a workout.
Also on the Rebelsâ€™ schedule is the Cary News Invitational, which will feature teams from North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Alabama and Georgia.
â€œWe try to make our schedule pretty tough. Cary is the strongest 4A team in the state year-in-and-year out,â€ Ross said.
So how does this seasonâ€™s schedule stack up to past schedules in Rossâ€™ estimation?
â€œItâ€™s as hard as any in the past. Over the years, weâ€™ve always tried to wrestle a real tough schedule and good competitionâ€”try to compete against the better teams in the state,â€ he said.
The West Lincoln Duals on Saturday will begin at 10 a.m. and will last all day. The cost for the event is $6.
by John Mark Brooks