By Travis Smola
Vicksburg wrestling has had some difficult years since Head Coach Jeff Mohney first took over, but the Bulldogs are finally starting to see a return to the program of old. There’s still a lot of growing to do, but the roster jumped from 23 to 30 wrestlers this year, giving Vicksburg some of the depth it’s long been craving.
“Having a full lineup is just half the battle. Once you do that, you start wrestling better. It gives you more confidence and that’s what we’re doing,” Mohney said after a recent quad match with Three Rivers, Paw Paw and Sturgis.
The Bulldogs matched up against rival Three Rivers first at the quad. They were down two wrestlers in the lineup and lost 64-14. JP Culver and Cooper Androsky picked up pinfall wins. Ty Barnes had the most thrilling matchup against the Wildcats, scoring a 10-4 points win.
“We wrestled hard. Three Rivers is tough. We didn’t match up,” Mohney said.
The team fared much better against Sturgis, coming away with a 62-18 win. Caden Town, Skye Smith, Daxton Rugg, Barnes, Carter Mann, Grant Daniels, and Brayden Dugray all picked up pinfall victories over the Trojans. Culver and Hunter Town’s matchups both went the distance. Culver won his match with a strong 19-2 points win. Town’s win came down to the wire and was a narrow 3-1 victory.
Mohney said the program has improved significantly over the last two or three years. It helps the team isn’t giving away points by default because they have no one to compete in certain weight classes. Every year, he’s recruiting a few more wrestlers to the team and the crowds seem a little larger and more vocal in the stands. This summer the team sent the boys to a wrestling camp, a move that has paid off so far in 2023.
“You can tell we’re wrestling better “We have two conference wins last year. We have two this year, so we have a chance at three or four,” Mohney said.
The team has two Conference wins so far this year which matches last year’s total. Mohney is hoping they can pick up a few more this year to build some more confidence and interest going into next year, especially since the team will lose nine seniors this year. But the upcoming rosters from the middle school are giving him some hope.
“Once we start getting 40 guys on the team consistently, then we’re really going to start competing,” Mohney said. “And our youth program is awesome right now, so it’s coming up. There are numbers, there’s experience now. I don’t have to teach parents about wrestling. That’s the hardest part too.”
By Travis Smola