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PCA Wrestling Panthers toe the line against the state’s best

Story By Griffin Pritchard | Publisher

Photos Courtesy PCA Athletics

CENTRAL ALABAMA SCOREBOARD OFFICE – For a season that started less than two weeks ago, longtime Prattville Christian Wrestling Coach Trent Staggs is excited about the promise of this season.

Staggs: “The PCA Wrestling team is going to be young again this season with only one senior – Andrew Allen at 170 pounds – but we have very high expectations for a number of guys in the line up that are a year older.

The line up – 10 strong at this point – features a mixture of grapplers who tested their mettle against the state’s best at last season’s Super State Tournament and left with medals of their own.  Matthew Post, Brody Pugh, Allen and Aidan Cockrell – according to Staggs – are expected to make a run for the gold again this season.

Staggs: “The team will struggle to win duel meets this year just because of the number of forfeits that we give up, but will compete well as a tournament team. A number of young guys will have to step up to help fill spots and fill some of the gaps that we have. I have very high expectations for the team we look to keep growing during the season.”

Keep in mind this season – unlike last – will culminate in the traditional sectional tournament instead of an ultra-competitive, Super State Tournament.

Staggs: “I’ve got to commend the AHSAA for getting the state meet in last year with covid and all that. The ability to get that tournament in was tremendous. You felt like your season meant something.”

It also meant that PCA – last season – wrestled more in their class (1A-4A) because of the enhanced importance on record.

While the postseason may have reverted to a more familiar situation, the intensity of the season hasn’t relented.

Case in point – the Murder Creek Melee event held at W.S. Neal over the weekend. PCA sent eight varsity Panthers and three jv grapplers into the fray.

Brody Pugh (145) and Adian Cockrell (285/Heavyweight) won their respective weight classes. Brysen Pugh (106) finished second. Logan Post (113) finished third. Matthew Post (120) finished second. Spencer Perkins (126) finished third. Austin Nordquist (160) finished sixth. Andrew Allen (170) finished second. The JV Panthers showed up and showed out just like their varsity brethren: Cole Young (160) won his weight class. Carter Copeland (152) finished third. Sawyer Nelsen (152) finished fourth.

Staggs: “The team wrestled well. The guys competed at a very high level and wrestled above their ability. For their first tournament of the year, they did not let it get too big for them and worked very hard to reach their potential.”

Following Murder Creek, the Panthers were back on the road to compete in the annual Gene Tayler Invitational, hosted by Anniston’s Weaver High. PCA took nine and finished ninth out of the 18 teams. Three Panthers medaled: eighth-grader Bryson Pugh (106) finished third, sophomore Brody Pugh (145) finished second and Andrew Allen, the senior Panther, finished third at 170.

Staggs: “The whole team competed in a very difficult tournament and wrestled hard throughout the day.

The grind though continues beginning with the 10th PCA Duels (December 18 at Prattville Christian) featuring the host Panthers, St. James, Montgomery Catholic, Holtville, Shelby County, T.R. Miller, W.S. Neal, Houston Academy, Beulah and Dothan. Wrestling is expected to start at 9 a.m.

Staggs: “The duel format gives them both experience and matches – so it’s a little bit of both. Since the AHSAA instituted the team dual tournament, (duels) are becoming more important and it plays to both aspects of the sport.”

The benefit being time on the mat. Teams competing in a duel tournament are guaranteed a certain number of matches whereas in a tournament, that number could vary between two (and back to the bleachers for the rest of the day) or upwards of 10 (and a medal).

Staggs: “Whenever I came here from Indiana 10 years ago to interview for the job, I told them we were going to host a tournament. It was a new program at the time and we wanted to show others around that this sport is important to us. The first few had local teams – now we have more teams wanting to come from farther away. Now we have teams that ask to come and before they walk out the door to leave ask to come back next year. Things like that make you feel good; that you are running a quality tournament with quality kids. We take a lot of pride in this tournament.”

But – as Staggs points out – this is just one in a list of tournaments that will help prepare the Panthers for Sectionals in less than two months. PCA still has appearances at the Montgomery Catholic-hosted Julian McPhillips Invitational and the Piedmont Dog Fight (Piedmont High).

Staggs: “We do wrestle out of our classification a number of times because it allows us to push our guys to compete at a high level. I’m pretty happy where we are. We have some spots where we need to work – but we’ll get there.”

Founder/Publisher of Central Alabama Scoreboard. Former sportsguy, managing editor, currently working for the City of Tallassee as a Public Information Specialist and grant writer.

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