BE wrestling team focuses on winning matches

All Paul Spence wanted for Christmas was a few more wrestlers for his Bishop England wrestling team – and for good reason.

This year’s roster includes only 14 wrestlers, which means the odds are stacked against the Bishops when they compete in dual meets. There are 16 weight divisions contested in dual meets and on a good day, the Bishops have participants in 10 classes. On a typical day, they have only eight wrestlers compete. That means the Bishops typically have to forfeit six classes. That gives the opponents a 36-0 lead before the action even begins.

“All the other team has to do is score 17 more points and we can’t win,” said Spence. “Because of that, we don’t focus on winning meets. We focus on winning matches. If we wrestle six matches and we win four, it’s a good day. It is what it is.”

There were 24 athletes on last year’s team and Spence expected to have more players on the roster this winter because 20 of the wrestlers were expected to return. But only 10 returned. Add four newcomers, and that gives Spence 14 wrestlers, although some are not ready for battle.

“We’re in one of those down cycles,” said Spence, who built the program into one of the most respected and best in the Palmetto State. “It is what it is and we focus on what we have. Wrestling is a difficult and challenging sport. It takes discipline and commitment. And let’s face it, wrestling is a blue-collar sport.”

The Bishops have won the Director’s Cup for athletic excellence thanks to numerous state championships in what are perceived as the country club sports: tennis, golf, soccer and other sports in which athletes compete year round. That’s not the case for the wrestlers who compete in a sport that is more popular in the North and Midwest than it is in the South.

Still the Bishops give it their best shot and do enjoy some success.

They competed in the Coastal Clash, a holiday tournament featuring 54 teams. The event was held at the North Charleston Convention Center, and several Bishops had their moment in the spotlight.

“Fifty-four teams on 12 mats. That gives our wrestlers a taste of what it’s going to be like at the state meet, where they have eight mats,” Spence said. “That makes the state meet less intimidating.” The Bishops also had a big meet this week when they competed in the Seahawk Slam, hosted by Hilton Head High School.

The Bishops had six wrestlers qualify for the state last winter and three return: Andrew Collins (126), Jack Grooms (132) and T. Smith (160).

Other wrestlers who have been impressive include Ben Daniel, Eric Nazon and newcomers Anthony Battista and Sam Boykin.

Boykin’s family tree is filled with successful wrestlers.

“His uncle was a wrestler, and I coached a number of his brothers,” Spence said. “A couple won state championships. He knows what it takes to be successful.”

Daniel Island Publishing

225 Seven Farms Drive
Unit 108
Daniel Island, SC 29492 

Office Number: 843-856-1999
Fax Number: 843-856-8555


Breaking News Alerts

To sign up for breaking news email alerts, Click on the email address below and put "email alerts" in the subject line:

Comment Here