By Carey Phillips


Smoky Mountain’s wrestling season will begin Saturday with a 9 a.m. tournament at Swain.

Erik Wilson, who is preparing or his first season as coach, has 33 wrestlers on the roster with almost half of them (15) freshmen.

“We are really young,” he said.

The roster has three seniors, including Sam Hudson, who was a state qualifier two years ago.

“They are working hard,” Wilson said. “They are just a good group of kids. I’m excited for it. Everybody will get to participate in the tournament. It will be the first time for some of these guys on the mat. I’m excited for the season.”

He expressed appreciation for the support he has received from the school administration, including Athletic Director Adam Phillips, in helping him adjust to the head coaching role.

“Since we’re so young as a team, we are going to struggle against more experienced wrestlers, but we’re going to get our wins,” Wilson said. “Sam is working real hard and leading like I want him to.”

He also cited returning junior Alex Rodriquez for his work ethic.

Other returnees who were on the roster for last season’s 12-10 team include senior Lennon McKnight and juniors Jose Ramos, Juan Guerrero and Eli Hamilton.

Wilson said he is hoping to be able to fill all 14 weight classes.

The revised schedule now includes three home matches. The first will be Dec. 17 against Mountain Heritage in the old gym.

Others listed on the roster include:

Senior, Oscar Munoz-Perez; juniors, C.J. Brown, Liam Wright, Mai-pai McCollough, Daniel Espinoza, Aundrel Byfield, Jaden Cole, Blake Stevens, John Coleman, Ben Mathews and Chris Juarez; sophomore, Colin Coggins; freshmen, William McCoy, Davey McCoy, Jacob Morrison, Juan Vidal, Warren Walker, Blake Christensen, Gavin Coggins, Ayden Johnson, Dillon Parton, Donnie Hebenstreit, Isaiah Bron-DePasquale, Mackenzie Ball, Thomas Tant, Lawrence Normand and Michael Brody.

The schedule is as follows:

Nov. 20 – at Swain Tournament; 24 – Jet Invitational at Enka.

Dec. 4 – NEO Tournament at Tuscola; 7 – at Rabun Gap, Georgia; 15 – at North Henderson; 17 – Mountain Heritage (old gym); 21-22 – at Swain Super Duals.

Jan. 1 – at Cherokee; 7 – West Henderson and Franklin; 8 – Milltown Classic at Pisgah; 14 – East Henderson; 15 – James Orr Tournament at Robbinsville; 18 – Pisgah and Tuscola at Pisgah; 22 – Mountain Seven Conference Tournament at North Henderson.