TENNERTON – During his time at the helm of the Buckhannon-Upshur wrestling program, head coach Jacob Orr has built the Buccaneer program into one of the most consistently competitive and successful teams in the state, nothing should change in that respect heading into the 2021-22 season. This year’s version of the Bucs’ wrestling team is an experience, veteran group, featuring seven returning wrestlers who made appearances in the state tournament last winter, as part of what is expected to be a full roster. It takes 14 athletes to fill a wrestling line-up, right now the Bucs preseason roster is comprised of 21 individuals. Orr stated, “I think we will be able to fill every weight class depending on where guys fall at weight-wise at the start of the season, which is an exciting prospect. I think that this is the first time we have been close to being able to pull that off in my time here.” Carrying a full roster of wrestlers would be a luxury for the Bucs, allowing them to compete in dual matches and make appearances in bigger tournaments. Orr credits his former and returning athletes for their contributions, which have been responsible for spurring growth of the program, its overall development, as well as for furthering the program’s sustained success under his watch, stating, “The foundation of our team’s success is the work our athletes have put in to build our program’s culture. I believe iron sharpens iron and success breeds success. I think recent success enjoyed by our student-athletes in recent years have inspired others to come out for our team and fall in love with the sport of wrestling.”
Last year, the Bucs, placed third at regionals and seventh at the state tournament. Last season, the wrestling team featured two regional champions in Breagan Pearson and Aidan Wilson. While, Pearson has graduated and is now competing for West Liberty University’s wrestling team; Wilson is returning for his senior year and will be looked upon for leadership in 2021-22. Wilson, who competed in the 113-pound division last year, is coming off a fourth-place finish at states, will again look to compete for a state title this season. The other six returning wrestlers that competed in the state tournament, seniors Alex Bennett, Trevur Randolph, Tucker Hurst, and Luke Bohnsack, junior Nathan Cornett, and sophomore Liam Garcia; also look to compete for state titles in their respective divisions. This strong collection of experienced and successful upperclassman will look to form the backbone of the B-UHS wrestling team this season.
When asked about the value of having so many talented and successful wrestlers returning this season, Orr replied, “I think this team has the talent to be one of the deepest squads I have had in my time in Buckhannon. The upperclassmen all know the routine in place in our program. They act as examples for our younger kids, showing them that all we accomplish is through hard work and dedication. They are the leaders of our team. They motivate and push our team’s younger athletes to be their best. I encourage our guys to constantly push each other in practice and they have responded well.” The experience of the Bucs upperclassmen wrestlers will prove to be an invaluable tool for the large class of freshman wrestlers new to Orr’s program.
As the Bucs wrestlers continue to prepare for the season, Orr is anxious to get the action started, saying, “Things are slow in the beginning of the season, they always are, but I think we are well ahead of schedule in terms of preparation. We have a lot of young and newer guys that haven’t had time to fully adjust to our training regimen. We are taking the time to get them brought up to speed on how we like to do things.”
The Bucs start the season ranked as the sixth best overall team in AAA. They will again find themselves competing in the highly competitive, Region 1, alongside teams the likes of: Bridgeport, Brooke, John Marshall, Morgantown, Preston, University and Wheeling Park. “In my opinion, we compete in the toughest region in the state; our schedule is loaded with top-tier teams, from start to finish our schedule will be a non-stop grind. I told my wrestlers to prepare to have your limits pushed this year.”
“I think we are, in my opinion, in the toughest region in the state,” said Orr. “We may not have the top team in the state, but the region is loaded. In the preseason rankings, I think four of the top ten teams in the state our from our region. From top to bottom, our region is a grind. I have always said iron sharpens iron so for us to be the best we have to compete with the best. We have a tough, competitive schedule this year. We will be put to the test this year against home high-caliber opponents.”
Orr is keeping his expectations for his team simple, “The sport of wrestling is so much more than wins and losses. This sport teaches you a great deal about yourself. I don’t place all the importance on who gets their hand raised at the end of the match. I want our athletes to go out and do the things that they have been taught and worked on, I want them to compete, to wrestle hard and to the best of their ability, regardless of the eventual outcome. More often than not, if they set that standard for themselves, wins will come.”
The Bucs wrestlers will see their action of the season starting Thursday at home in a dual outing versus rival Lewis County.