ATHENS — Athens’ wrestling team won a competitive junior varsity match over the weekend at Sparkman.
While technically labeled a “JV” tournament, many teams brought their varsity squads to the tournament in order to get as much time on the mat early in the season as possible.
“We took everyone because we are so far behind,” said Athens wrestling coach Jonathan Snider. “There were some other teams that brought their varsity guys to get some mat time. That’s what this time of year is really for.
“It’s to get as much mat time as you can before you really settle into what you’re line up is going to be.”
Snider’s group didn’t have much time to prepare for wrestling season after the football team made a deep run in the 5A playoffs last month. Snider and many members of the team were still involved in football season just a week before wrestling season was scheduled to begin.
The team played against some of the best competition in the state at the Huntsville High Invitational last weekend.
“We didn’t fare too well (at first), but the kids did the best they could,” said Snider. “We were up against some com petition that we won’t see again. It really showed that we had only wrestled for a 3 or 4 days.”
A young Athens team found its legs at the Sparkman Tournament. Snider said although the team lacks seniors with experience, it could be the deepest Athens team in a while.
“We’ve got some guys that are wrestling out of their weight class right now,” said Snider. “These upcoming tournaments will show us what we need to work on. The varsity will have a tournament every weekend from here on out.”
Snider said that including middle school, more than 40 wrestlers are currently on the roster. That’s more than more than 10 wrestlers than Athens had last year.
“We’ve got some guys that will be challenged because there is so much competition,” said Snider. “This is first time in a while we’ll be able to fill out all 14 weight classes. There is some depth in our middleweight classes.”
Athens will host Austin Thursday at 5:30 p.m.