Young, but talented Mat Ramblers focusing on February
The last few seasons have seen the Lafayette Ramblers take steps toward rebuilding their wrestling program back toward being the powerhouse that it once was.
And although this year’s squad will still be a relatively young one with only three seniors and a majority of underclassmen, the Ramblers are already proving their toughness this season.
Lafayette has begun the 2018-2019 campaign by winning nine of its first 11 dual matches, with the lone two losses coming by narrow margins to Class 6A Dalton (42-30) and longtime Tennessee stalwart Soddy-daisy (38-30).
New head coach Andy Stivers, who prepped at Chattooga and wrestled at both Cumberland (Tenn.) University and Shorter, said he likes what he’s seen from his new school and his new team thus far.
“There’s a great atmosphere (at Lafayette),” explained Stivers, who spent 16 seasons coaching at Chattooga. “You’ve got a lot of sports programs here that are successful. The kids are hard-working, dedicated and have common goals in mind that they plan to reach this year.
“We’ve started out pretty well. The kids are busting their tails getting after it. They’re showing a lot of heart we’ve had some success early, but we’ve still got a long way to go. We’re more worried about what’s going to happen in February because that’s the most important part of the season.”
As for this year’s senior class, J.J. Muder and Jake Price will both wrestle around 138 or possibly 145 pounds, while Zach Price could go at 145 or 152.
“All three are good examples,” Stivers said. “They’re vocal and they work hard in the practice room to inspire other kids to work harder. They really lead by example.”
Cyrek and Keegan Johns, a pair of brothers, are battling for the spot at 106. Hector Velez, a sectional qualifier a year ago, will wrestle at 113, while two first-year wrestlers - Harrison Watkins and Jazzen Nelson - are vying for the spot at 120.
Avery Sullivan is a returning wrestler for the Ramblers. He will wrestle at 126 this year, while Steven Sanford should also see some mat time at that weight. Carson Lanier will go