The Shelbyville Central Golden Eagle wrestling team held its first practice of its sophomore season on Monday afternoon. Just last year, the program gained new life after being shut down for several years due to lack of student interest. But last year, a strong resurgence of enthusiasm brought the program out of hibernation.
During the team's first practice on Monday, there was a steady mix of returning wrestlers, as well as new faces.
Returning wrestlers included Coble Shearon (126) Tony Patterson (170) Marquis Lyons and Kieth Harris (182) Aaron Tankersly and Slate Doak (220), Dallas Castleman and Dayton Taylor (285).
"A lot of my returning guys are coming straight off of the football field, onto the wrestling mat. They are hungry for competition and I can't wait to feed it to them. I know if we work hard and do the little things, we will improve in year two," said Shelbyville coach Marcus McDonald.
Because the program gained interest late, the team couldn't have an official season last year, and were limited to non-sanctioned junior varsity matches.
While finding adequate competition for the new wrestlers to dive into last season was a task, this year McDonald is focused on earning a new fan base.
"We have great parents supporting our sport. Pam Zahorian, the Pattersons, Brandy Tribe and a bunch more that have helped me provide this sport to our student-athletes. What we need now is for the people to come out and see what we have to offer," McDonald said.
"Find someone on the team to cheer for and come to our three home matches. I've said since day one wrestling is a blue collar sport and Shelbyville is a blue collar town. So let's get some big time, blue collar support for these hard working young men and women."
Joining the young men on the team are three Eaglettes who will be earning their time on the mat.
"They are working right alongside the guys and they won't back down either."
During the teams' inaugural season last year, the wrestlers developed a slogan -- "Tap out or pass out."
This year the team has adopted a new slogan, "No retreat, no surrender."
"I chose that as our motto this year because now we've started something, and there is no turning back. We will finish it, no matter what," McDonald said.
The team will host three matches this season, the first Thursday, Jan 10. vs. St. Andrews -Sewanee and Lawrence County. The second match will be held a week later against region powerhouses Blackman and Riverdale. The final home match of the year will be held on Jan. 24 against La Vergne.