Five Blue Devils Grapplers Win Conference Championships
Feb 12, 2017, 16:14
STAFF PHOTOS/DANIEL PARKER: 2017 conference champion Garet Jordan pins an opponent from Thomas Dale in a previous match.
The week before the Conference 26 tournament, Hopewell Wrestler Ethen Hill was losing sleep over his match against Colin Pritchett, Spotsylvania High School grappler; he had seen him before and knew he was good.
“The week before, God it was terrible. I was just nervous. I finally got there. I was getting in the mindset and took a few days off just doing my own thing relaxing, not talking to anyone, staying at home just focusing….” said Ethen Hill. “He was the first person in the 145 weight class to wrestle, so I got to see his strategy.”
Hill gained his confidence after Blue Devils Wrestler Garet Jordan, a childhood friend of Hill’s, gave him advice for the match, as they picked apart the technique of his opponent. Hill won the match in 1 minute and 54 seconds, getting him his fourth title as Conference Champion for the Blue Devils.
Hill wasn’t the only Conference Champion for the Blue Devils, though. The Hopewell wrestling team had five grapplers win the title of Conference Champion at the Conference 26 tournament at Spotsylvania High School on February 2. Mackenzie Cruey, Daniel Martinez, Garet Jordan and Jeremiah Bolling all came out as champions.
Nerves were high for other grapplers on the team, too. Mackenzie Cruey, the only girl on the wrestling team, had to clear her head before facing her opponent Katherine Mills of Spotsylvania High School. She had faced Mills before, but the question remained in her head “what if she got better.”
“I cleared my mind and thought, ‘Okay I’m in the championship round it’s either 1st or 2nd,’” said Mackenzie Cruey. “I got to clear my thoughts and go with what I wanted to do, and stick with the plan.”
In a minute and 58 seconds, Cruey won. Garet Jordan missed his last season after a car crash and was ready to win the conference championship.
“I don’t hold anything against anyone. It was just adversity. Stuff happens,” said Garet Jordan. “This is kind of like my comeback from it.”
Jordan certainly came back mat side against his opponent Jamal Evans of Petersburg. From what Jordan described as a heart wrenching experience, being unable to participate in the last season to becoming humble about the car crash, he was hungry to make his mark his senior year. He was confident in his abilities. Jordan pinned his opponent Jamal Evans from Petersburg.
Jeremiah Bolling stepped off from the football field onto the wrestling mat for the Blue Devils. He got into wrestling to get stronger and he’s in the heavy weight class at 285. He defeated his opponent in 58 seconds.
Daniel Martinez didn’t face any grapplers, winning the championship by forfeit. He described that as disappointing but found this season positive. Last year he wasn’t able to wrestle because of grades, but this year because of how much he enjoyed the sport, he turned around his grades, a victory in and of itself.
“It really was a victory. I really enjoyed it last year and I wanted to continue to wrestle this year,” said Martinez. “So I knew I had to get my grades up and I had to turn it around. “
Hopewell continues on to the Varsity Region tournament held on February 10th at 2pm at New Kent High School.
“It feels great to walk away with five champions, two runners-up and a bronze out of 10 wrestlers that we brought,” said Blue Devils Wrestling Coach Rich Halas. “It demonstrates that our athletes have the quality to compensate for our current lack of quantity.”