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An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

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Wrestling wrestles its way into winter sport season

By Chris Brown and Ike Hammond

For the first time in Grady’s history, wrestling will be included in the myriad of winter sports offered. Plans to create the team began last year, but the administration could not find a suitable coach and therefore could not move forward with the program. This year, however, first-year football coach and teacher Earthwind Moreland was asked to fill the role by recently hired athletic director Myss Johnson-Jelks.

“She approached me when she got here,” Moreland said. “She stated that there was an interest in wrestling and I guess it had been mentioned the year before. I’m not sure what happened last year, but she came to me this year and said that we have the basic needs for a wrestling team, and asked if I would be interested in heading that up.”

For Moreland, helping in the creation of the wrestling team had benefits outside of just helping to establish a new program. “I think it can help football players on another scale, especially because most linemen I’ve come into contact with have wrestled, whether it was in high school or college,” Moreland said. “Also, I think it will help my guys not lose that edge, that competitiveness that they need to compete.”

Although Moreland has had success in recruiting several football players to participate in wrestling, he’s also drawn interest from students who have wrestled before, including junior Zach Clay. Due to the relative novelty of Grady’s wrestling program, experienced wrestlers like Clay act almost as student-coaches, giving advice to their teammates whenever necessary.

Clay is a transfer student from Lakeside High School and has been wrestling there since his freshman year. He decided to take up the sport on a whim and, despite his lack of experience, was able to win JV County and advance to State Sectionals as a sophomore.

“I guess it was just like, something to do while I was at Lakeside because I wasn’t really doing anything when I was there,” Clay said. “It’s like something that has definitely become more of a passion as I’ve gotten better.”

Clay has tempered his expectations for the year because the team is only in its infancy, and also because of the short duration of their practices. “Yeah, I mean, at Lakeside we had 3-to-4-hour practices, which is maybe over the top, but we’re having 1-hour practices here, and we have a lot to do with very little time,” Clay said. “Everybody’s new to the sport. With that much time, it will be tough to even teach the basics.”

Due to basketball practices, the only time the gym is available is for an hour in the morning, which forces Moreland and his team to take advantage of their practice time. “My main goal is to get all the time we can get on the mats in the mornings, and then use the weight room for lifting and try to get our cardio in after school,” Moreland said.

The team still has a long way to go, as many members are young and have little experienced. Players on the team have identified many improvements being made, but are aware of the progress it will take to be competitive against other schools.

“We still need to work on endurance and strength, learning more takedowns and moves,” freshman Jared Moon said.

Coach Moreland has tentatively said that the first match would be around Jan. 15, and scheduled against Therrell and North Clayton High Schools. Though the team might not advance as far as it might hope, Moreland still has great expectations for the team in the future.

“Once they get that [competition] under their belts, I look out there and I see there are one maybe two seniors,” Moreland said. “So as it goes on, I want them to get that feeling of “we can really do well in this and it can be a sport that we can have other people come out and get involved in, and maybe we can compete for a state title. Especially with it being an upstart program, it could be the foundation for something for years to come.”

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Wrestling wrestles its way into winter sport season