RONDA — Derrick Woodie became the fourth finalist in three years for East Wilkes when he stepped onto the mat at the Greensboro Coliseum Feb. 22.
Woodie, the 1A, 145-pound champion was the second consecutive titlist from the Ronda campus. Cody Mathis captured the 152-pound title in 2013. Also in 2013, Zack Prevette was a finalist at 132 pounds. In 2012, Zack Faircloth was a finalist at 195 pounds.
“I don’t think it’s coincidence,” first-year head coach Danny Prevette said. “I think it’s due to the hard work they put in.”
It’s time and effort, Prevette said. “Wrestling’s like any other sport,” he explained. “You specialize in something; if you dedicate your time to a certain sport, you’re going to be good at it.
“You either wrestle year-round or you’re pretty much not going to succeed.”
It doesn’t hurt to start early either, Prevette said. “They’ve been wrestling pretty much all their lives,” he said. “Woodie was an exception. But he trained with them.”
Prevette said the success of the East Wilkes program begins in the fifth- and sixth-grade program and continues through the middle-school program. That’s how Prevette got involved in coaching. He followed his son, Zack, up through to the high school team. When Dan Prouty left after the 2013 season, Prevette took over as head coach with Zack now an assistant.
The success of the program, though, lies mainly in the hands of the wrestlers and their parents, Prevette said. “They put forth a whole lot of effort and time,” he said.
“The kids have to be the ones who buy into it,” he added. “They have to put forth the extra work. I’d like to have 10 kids like that.”
Prevette said it is more like “two or three a year who put forth a real effort.”
The team consisted of as many as nine wrestlers in 2014. Six went to regional; three went to state.
Prevette said he understands every wrestler wants to be a state champion, “but they got to start working toward that goal. That’s what I set for every wrestler at the beginning of the year. We just keep setting our goals and keep going and going.”
Mathis and Zack Prevette both set goals of winning 150 high school matches and both accomplished those goals. “Derrick only won 145, but our goal for Derrick was 135,” Prevette said.
Woodie, who didn’t start wrestling until eighth grade, did not have the start Faircloth, Mathis, or Zack Prevette had. He failed each of his first three high school seasons to reach the state championships.
“Not getting there this year was not an option,” Prevette said. “He was the best wrestler in the state of North Carolina not to have been to the state tournament. Realistically, he could have been to the state tournament all four years.
“We knew once he got there, he’d do good.”
Woodie’s worn-and-tattered singlet was not a reflection of the support the program gets. The program received new singlets a year ago, but it is a tradition that the captains wear the older, blacker singlets. “Our booster club supports us pretty well,” Prevette said.
Prevette said he has two more wrestlers with a chance of keeping the young streak alive: senior-to-be Joseph Shumate and sophomore-to-be Josh Parker.
It’s up to them, Prevette said. They have to practice and take advantage of opportunities to compete, he added.
“There’s a tournament about every weekend if you want to go,” Prevette said.
Jim Fuller may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @elkinareasports.