By JOSH FRYE
Escambia County High School and Escambia County Middle School combined to reach a milestone this year when a new sport made its entry into the history of both schools. Wrestling has not been a sport that many, if anyone, has associated with ECHS and ECMS, but this year that changed.
Even with COVID-19 locking up many sports and changing the everyday way of life, ECHS head wrestling coach Roland Hall and assistant Joel Gonzalez helped make a success out of the first season of wrestling at the high school and its feeder school.
According to Gonzalez, funding for the new team sport came from a slew of different directions, including the schools, Popeye’s, David’s Catfish and Parker and Sons Construction.
“We started with about 30 kids that were interested,” Gonzalez said. “At the end of this season, we only had three.”
Gonzalez added that the virus probably had a lot to do with the low number, but interest in the sport also has to grow. This season the team participated as a non-sanctioned club team in three tournaments and five dual matches.
Gonzalez added that there are 14 weight classes, and a team must have seven wrestlers to win. ECHS had only five wrestlers competing, so no first-place wins were logged in the dual matches. With a non-sanctioned team, ECHS mainly competed against W.S. Neal and T.R. Miller.
“We were able to gain a few more matches,” Gonzalez explained. “We were allowed by Neal and Miller to join in and have a few three-way matches with them and some other schools. That helped us gain some experience for next season.”
Despite the low numbers of wrestlers and matches, two ECHS wrestlers made their presence known on the mat.
ECHS senior Calvin Nichols went undefeated this season, with a record of 5-0 within the heavyweight class and was also honored with being named to the first-team all-county group, and 7th grader, Mirio Crenshaw went 1-6 in the 120-pound class and was named second-team all-county.
Gonzalez stated that the success Nichols and Crenshaw have had will pave the way for more kids to come into the sport.
According to the assistant coach, the number one concern on his and Hall’s minds is recruiting. They hope more kids will be interested in the sport since the program will be sanctioned by the Alabama High School Athletic Association.