Cavs’ wrestling improves

Published 12:16 am Saturday, December 31, 2016

Lakeland High School is working hard to build on the success that its wrestling program had last year.

Last year Lakeland had a wrestler qualify for the state tournament for the first time in school history. A few others were one match away from qualifying for states.

This year they are working to have even more qualify for the states. Coach Nathan Hoffman wants to continue to coach his team up to where each individual wrestler can have a successful year.

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Senior Ziquan Edwards will be leading the way for the Cavs. Last year Edwards was selected as a state alternate at 145 pounds. Hoffman believes that selection helped Edwards see what is required to make it that far and to be a part of that atmosphere.

Edwards’ experience also will be useful as he takes a leadership role in helping the other Cavs wrestlers reach their goals.

Hoffman said his team has a lot of potential on his team this season. The wrestlers have goals they want to accomplish, and Hoffman thinks they will do so.

“Our goal is to continue to get better in our dual matches,” Hoffman said. “We want to send as many as we can to states, and I think we have a good chance to do that. We just have to keep getting better.”

As a team, Lakeland continues to build its program. Hoffman said it is challenging to recuit kids from school for the wrestling program. But wrestling has benefits, especially for multi-purpose athletes like football players.

Hoffman believes bringing awareness of those benefits will do wonders for the Lakeland program.

The Cavaliers have been participating in Southeastern District meets during the first half of their schedule. Most of the SED districts schools are bigger than Lakeland, and some of the other schools carry bigger wrestlers.

In the new year, Lakeland will face more opponents from within its conference, and its wrestlers are more likely to be evenly matched.

To make it to the state level Hoffman wants to keep his wrestlers encouraged but also letting them know the little things matter.

“When you reach that level you’ll see that one or two points sometimes makes the difference,” Hoffman said. “We want to give ourselves the best chance to win. Whether it be being more aggressive or better conditioning or even being more deliberate about our setups.”

Before the holiday break, Lakeland wrestled Suffolk rival Nansemond River, losing by 13 points. Even though the Cavs won more matches, they lost the dual.

“We always enjoy wrestling them,” Hoffman said. “They have a good program. They are always a good challenge.”

Lakeland will start the new year away against Western Branch at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.