Bearcats coach Andy Fulmer, who wrestled for Weaver in the mid-1990s and has coached the team for 10 years, said he never has been involved with an extended break like Calhoun County faced last week when snow and ice knocked out four school days.
The four-day layoff from school (and wrestling practice) gave the Bearcats their first extended rest in months. However, it also had the wrestlers out of their routine less than a week before the North super sectional at the Birmingham Crossplex. A state tournament qualifier, the event starts Friday and concludes Saturday.
“I’m not really concerned. We practice really hard, and we’ve wrestled a lot of matches, so a few days off probably did us good,” Fulmer said. “We’ve wrestled 36 or 37 matches this season, including every weekend except maybe two since the middle of November. We just had to get back into a routine.”
Weaver’s Nick Souder said the team was a bit “sluggish” when it returned to practice Monday, which marked a week since the last time the Bearcats had taken the mat.
During the break, Fulmer had several concerns, mostly that his wrestlers maintained their weight and were exercising. Weaver’s Wil Mizic said maintaining weight is normally easy enough, but exercising last week was a little tougher task.
“If you’ve got access to a gym, then you can run and exercise there. Otherwise, you can do an outdoor run,” Fulmer said. “I think there were about four or five of them that got out and ran together. That’s pretty much all you can do.”
The long break also canceled the Calhoun County wrestling tournament, which was scheduled for this past Saturday. Fulmer and other coaches around the county talked about rescheduling it, but eventually decided to not make it up, avoiding any possible injuries the week of the super sectionals.
“I wasn’t disappointed at all. It’s just a county tournament,” Souder said. “Really, to me, sectionals and state are a bigger deal.”
Fulmer said his only goal for the Bearcats has been to improve each time their own on the mat. Despite, the coach not setting the specific goal of a state championship, Weaver’s Macklin Crook still said the team feels pressure at times.
“When we walk in the gym and see those nine pictures of all those (state championship) teams,” he said, “we feel like we have something to live up to.”
While the Beartcats are used to the massive state tournament, which Weaver’s Jacob Howard said this year’s new super sectional will be similar to, Alexandria’s first-year program is learning more about the sport as the season goes on.
“Even though we’re in our first year, I think they’re starting to realize you have to go out in practice and give it all you have,” Valley Cubs coach Frank Hartzog said. “They’re starting to buy into that, and we have some athlete kids. I think it’s going to start growing, and we’re going to get better.”
Hartzog, who wrestled at Weaver in the mid-1990s, said he doesn’t think his wrestlers have comprehended what the North super sectional will be like, but added he feels optimistic about how some of the Valley Cubs will do this weekend.
“We’ve been to a big tournament before, it was the Weaver tournament, which is similar to sectionals, and I told them it’s going to be just like the Weaver tournament, but there are just a little higher stakes,” he said. “I told them to just go out and do the best they can, and I think we have a few kids that have a good shot.”
Brandon Miller covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575 or follow him on Twitter @bmiller_star.