Fighting Blues Aim High

WRESTLING FOR the Fighting Blues this season are (seated, from left) Tyler Royer, Caleb Jones, Nick Craft, Trent Fitzgerald, (kneeling) Matthew Mears, Jimmy Dunbar, Jeremiah Fulwider, Dylan Critzer, (standing) Kabell Austin, Forrest Vassar and Anthony Lilly.

WRESTLING FOR the Fighting Blues this season are (seated, from left) Tyler Royer, Caleb Jones, Nick Craft, Trent Fitzgerald, (kneeling) Matthew Mears, Jimmy Dunbar, Jeremiah Fulwider, Dylan Critzer, (standing) Kabell Austin, Forrest Vassar and Anthony Lilly.

Parry McCluer Grapplers Hope To Continue ‘Rich Tradition’

Led by three seniors who competed at the Class 1 state tournament last winter, the Parry McCluer High School wrestling team has high hopes for this season.

“I think we’re going to be very competitive this year,” said 12th-year PM head coach Jeremiah Brockenbrough. “Our goals are to be a district champ and qualify as many kids to the state tournament as possible. At Parry McCluer, we have a rich tradition of all-state members.”

The Blues, who have 11 wrestlers this year, graduated three seniors from last year’s team. One of them, Hayden Lawrence, placed fourth at 120-pounds at the state meet. The other, Austin Moore, finished fifth at 145. The pair led PM to a tie for 12th place at the state tournament. The Blues also graduated Troy Coleman (152).

Senior state qualifiers returning from last winter’s team are Tyler Royer (106), Nick Craft (138) and Trent Fitzgerald (170). Craft, who will be a captain for the Blues, placed second in the Region 1C tournament last winter. It was a strong comeback for Craft, who had missed the previous season due to a knee injury.

Royer and Fitzgerald both placed third at the regional tournament. PM’s other returnee, junior heavyweight Forrest Vassar, was one win away from advancing to the state tournament.

The rest of the Blues’ wrestlers are out for the varsity team for the first time, but they have all wrestled at the little league level. “We’re bringing in some really good talent up through our little league program,” Brockenbrough said.

Returning as Brockenbrough’s longtime assistant coach is Chad Dorey, who is in his 12th year with the PM wrestling program. Brockenbrough also credited Brian Crews, who is in charge of the middle school program, for preparing these wrestlers.

Wrestling at 132 is junior Caleb Jones. Junior Matthew Mears will represent the Blues at 145. Two sophomores, Jimmy Dunbar and Dylan Critzer, are both listed at 152. Brockenbrough said Dunbar wrestled from age 4 to 12, and the PM coach convinced him to wrestle again this year.

Fresh off an active football season is Blues’ sophomore running back Jeremiah Fulwider (160). Brockenbrough said the Blues are working to get Fulwider and their other football players into wrestling shape. “The majority of these kids played football for us,” Brockenbrough said. “At the end of the day, football and wrestling go hand in hand. We try to preach at the school that, if you’re not doing anything after football season, you need to be wrestling if you’re not playing basketball.

Freshman Kabell Austin will be the Blues’ wrestler at 220, and freshman Anthony Lilly will back up Vassar in the heavyweight division.

In the region, where the Blues placed fifth last year, Brockenbrough sees defending champion Rural Retreat and Grayson County as the toughest opponents. Grayson County has moved down from Class 2 to compete with smaller schools. Both the subregional and super regional tournaments are slated to take place at Grayson County in early February.

The Blues will begin the season when they play host for the 10th annual Shumaker Classic this weekend. Wrestling is scheduled to start on Friday at 6 p.m. and on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. The Blues will travel for most of their tournaments, but they are scheduled to have a home dual tournament against Covington on Jan. 22 at 6 p.m.

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