Riccio works to rebuild Cherokee wrestling program
by Tyler Spinnenweber
tspinnenweber@cherokeetribune.com
January 19, 2014 12:49 AM | 1858 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cherokee’s Evan Wolff, left, tries to escape teammate Zach Bogdan during practice earlier this week. The Warriors were hit hard by graduation after last season, leaving the team young and largely inexperienced, but despite the growing pains, coach Lance Riccio sees a promising future. 
<BR>Staff photo by Todd Hull
Cherokee’s Evan Wolff, left, tries to escape teammate Zach Bogdan during practice earlier this week. The Warriors were hit hard by graduation after last season, leaving the team young and largely inexperienced, but despite the growing pains, coach Lance Riccio sees a promising future.
Staff photo by Todd Hull
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CANTON — To most at the professional level, rebuilding is a bad excuse for losing and poor performance.

But for many, especially in high school sports, it means starting over and being patient. Patient for the next batch of athletes to restore a program to where it once was.

Rebuilding means looking for the positives in those losses, with an eye on the future.

Just one year removed from a having a veteran-laden roster, the Cherokee wrestling program is in full rebuilding mode with only two wrestlers that have winning records.

“We had an experienced group last year, senior-heavy with two wrestlers making it to the state finals,” second-year coach Lance Riccio said. “We are starting over. We have a young squad with only three seniors. The squad has a lot potential and they are getting better every week and learning on the fly. The future is bright.”

Leading that future are several underclassmen, including freshman Maxwell McMahon and sophomores Evan Adcox, Chris Mancuso and Tyler Durden.

McMahon (120 pounds) is only in his third year of wrestling and has beaten numerous older wrestlers. Adcox (152) is wrestling after missing last season with a shoulder injury. He rehabbed well and recently defeated a state-qualifier from River Ridge.

Mancuso (195) and Durden (170) are the other young wrestlers looking to bring back the Cherokee wrestling program to where it was a year ago.

Despite the down season, the Warriors’ wrestlers still have a handful of tournaments left to hone their skills and earn the chance to qualify for the Class AAAAAA state tournament through the area and sectional meets.

Cherokee spent the weekend at the Sham Slam, a traditional-style tournament hosted by Habersham Central High School in Mt. Airy.

“The Habersham Slam is often regarded as the toughest tournament in the state of Georgia,” Riccio said. “It is a meat-grinder and will feature great wrestlers and multiple state champs from rival schools such as Woodstock and Etowah. It will also help us get ready for (the area tournament) in three weeks.”

Riccio said his wrestlers have improved at every event they’ve attended, so the coach said his team might surprise some.

With a young squad that has potential, and a pipeline of 25 middle-school prospects waiting in the wings, Riccio hopes hard work will allow Cherokee to re-emerge as a contending team.

“Whatever happens happens,” he said, “They will be an even better team next year, but it will ultimately come down to the work the young wrestlers put in during the offseason.”
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