By Greg Ford
Pirates’ head coach Tracy Cleveland believes two things about his team.
First, there will be 14 weight classes at the Jan. 24 district meet, and he’s confident Wylie can qualify for regionals in each one. Second, the first-year leader also regards his current squad as being capable of earning the district title in the process.
“I would like for us to be the first district champ in Wylie (wrestling) history, and I think we have a good chance to do so,” Cleveland.
However, before all that takes place — the site will be Lovejoy High School — the Pirates still have a few opponents to contend with, a stretch that started at this past weekend’s Grapevine Duals and will continue with a tri-match Thursday at Wylie East against the Raiders and Highland Park.
The season concludes Thursday, Jan. 16, at home with a dual meet against McKinney North on Senior Night.Those matches will be excellent preparation for the postseason, which could, for many Pirates, include trips to the Jan. 31-Feb. 1 Region II Tournament in Cypress and the Feb. 14-15 state tournament at Garland’s Culwell Center.
Several Pirates have a shot to wrestle deep into the postseason, including 106-pound sophomore Ryan Rigby, a state qualifier as a freshman. At 120 pounds, there is freshman Rafael Lopez, who, Cleveland noted, is “very, very good.”
Junior Hunter Bryant is a force at 126 pounds, with Cleveland adding he should be the top seed at the district championships. Fellow Pirate grappler, junior Arman Mansouri, will be among the top-three contenders at 145 pounds.
Also expected to do well is Anthony Pena at 160 pounds. He was a state qualifier last season, and Cleveland sees no reason why history can’t repeat itself this season.
Senior Nation Gibrick should be the top district seed at 170 pounds, Cleveland said, while sophomore Ryan Beattie, a state qualifier as a freshman, is a force at 220 pounds.
Wylie East wrestling
The Raiders return to the mat Thursday for Senior Night with a tri-match against district opponents Highland Park and Wylie. That will be followed by tournaments at The Colony (Jan. 11) and then the two-day (Jan. 18-19) tournament at Frisco Heritage.