LAURINBURG — Scotland’s wrestling team is hitting its stride at the right time.
With one meet left until the Sandhills Athletic Conference championships, head coach Thomas Havener is excited about his team’s potential.
“Progressively we did what we were supposed to do, and we’re right in the thick of things,” Havener said.
Havener, an assistant coach on Scotland’s football team, compared the wrestling team’s late-season success to the Fighting Scots’ postseason run on the gridiron in the fall. The football team finished the regular season 5-5 before finishing as the state’s Class 4A runner-up.
“Now we need to take this to conference and do what we do best, and that’s win,” Havener said.
Scotland narrowly defeated Richmond in a rivalry duel on Wednesday. After the teams finished the duel tied at 42-all, Scotland won the tiebreaker 7-6.
Four days earlier, the Scots had three wrestlers — Michael Locklear (220 pounds), Jeremiah McRimmon (170) and Charles Wall (182) — register top-five finishes in their respective weight classes at Jack Britt’s Boneyard Bash.
The Scots are set to compete at St. Pauls High School’s Bulldog Brawl on Saturday, the team’s final tune-up before the conference tournament. Havener said McCrimmon, Wall and 106-pounder Keldon Clark are among the wrestlers who are primed to have postseason runs.
McRimmon has a record of 10-4 this season.
“I’m trying to pick up my intensity and make sure I don’t stop at moments,” McRimmon said. “Just keep up the intensity throughout every match.”
Wall’s record is currently 11-5, and Clark is 10-3. Other top performers for the Scots include Locklear, who is 11-7, and Nathaniel Harrington (285), who is 9-1.
The Scots sent 10 wrestlers to regionals last year despite having an inexperienced roster. The team is still young this season.
“We’re talking about 10 or 11 freshmen that are coming up from the middle school program,” Havener said. “I have a bunch of first-year wrestlers. I have a bunch of seniors, but a bunch of them are first-year wrestlers.
“It’s just learning the craft. Learning what you can do, and learning what you can’t do.”
Havener said Scotland’s staff has taken over the local middle school modified wrestling program, and the program is now getting a first look at the next generation of high school wrestlers.
“We’re really grooming the next batch of kids,” Havener said. “We love our kids now, but we know what’s coming up, and what’s coming up is pretty special.”
Havener hopes to continue to build a solid foundation for those future classes by sending a few of his wrestlers to the state meet this year. His athletes are up to the challenge.
“I’m going to keep my head up and keep fighting for state,” McCrimmon said.
Brandon Tester can be reached at [email protected] or 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @BrandonTester.