Wrestling team quickly rebuilding after class of 2014 left historic legacy

Tyler Hotz, Staff Writer

Last year’s Bearden wrestling team was led by a stout group of seniors, but with that graduating class gone, the program looks to rebuild under new leadership and potential.

“We graduated nine seniors off a team, and that leaves a huge hole,” Coach Donnie Floyd said. “We have filled most of those spots back in, but they are really young guys.

“We are starting from the basics.”

Added junior Jacob Gerken: “We lost two team captains and lost half of our starting lineup.”

Bearden achieved many honors last season, including taking nine individual wrestlers to state and also finishing second in the region for individuals, which was their highest finish in the program’s history. In addition, last season the Bulldogs won their first team tournament ever.

In order to have a successful season this year, new leaders will have to step up. Even though the team has lost many seniors, a core of four to five wrestlers looks to take over. These four qualified for state last season, and senior David Gaiterbrandt earned all-state honors.

“We help out with teaching some of the younger kids moves,” Gerken said.

Added Coach Floyd: “[The older guys] show how to work hard. They are getting into the swing of coming into battle everyday. They are showing the younger kids what it should look like when they are practicing.”

The team is young this year, but this does not mean the talent level is low. Freshman Max Grayson won the eighth grade state championship last season, and other underclassmen look to add depth and talent.

The team has had various preseason tournaments and matches. The most recent one took place in Murfreesboro at the MTSU Duals. Bearden won four out of their seven matches as a team.

Gerken and Grayson both won all seven of their matches.

“We started off pretty slow [last weekend], but we started working better together and started cheering on our teammates,” Grayson said.

With the foundation set, Bearden will look to claim their third straight district title.