Friday, December 18, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Beebe, Cabot open season

Leader sportswriter

Beebe had its first wrestling meet of the season Tuesday at Badger Sports Arena. It was an exhibition meet, with Cabot and Southside Batesville also competing, and even though it wasn’t an official match, Beebe coach Jerry Price liked what he saw from his team.

“I was really pleased,” said Price, who’s in his second year heading the wrestling program at BHS. “I think we’re a lot further ahead this year than we were this time last year. I contribute that to the kids, because they work hard, they do a lot on their own.

“They want to have a really good season and they’re putting the work in to do it. So I was really pleased with (Tuesday) night.”

In the 106-pound weight class, senior Destiny Nunez won her match by pin. She pinned her opponent, from Southside, 1:05 in the first round of the match.

Nunez became the first girl to win a state wrestling championship in Arkansas last season (fourth nationwide), and wants to repeat as a senior. Price says he sees her dedication to do that every day in practice.

“She’s a natural born leader in I guess you could call a male-dominated sport,” Price said of Nunez. “But at practice, I look to her in warm-ups and she leads all of that. She is a team leader, but just her dedication – I talked to her back in the summer and she was already working on this year.

“It goes a long way to see her putting the extra effort into it. I didn’t see that last year. I think maybe winning that state championship last year lit the fire and made her say I want to do this again. I expect good things out of her. Hopefully she can repeat.”

In the 113-pound class, Beebe freshman Jaden Webb won two matches Tuesday. He beat a Southside and Cabot wrestler – both wins coming in the second round.

In the 126-pound class, Justin Brannon won his match approximately a minute into the second round. In the next weight class up, Badger Justin Jackson won his 132-pound match 48 seconds into the first round, and in the 145-pound ranks, Karter Warner won his first match 53 seconds into round one.

Warner came up short in his second exhibition match, losing that one by technical fall to Cabot senior Austin Dye. At 160 pounds, Noah Merced also went 1-1 Tuesday. His win came against a Southside wrestler 28 seconds into round two. Merced’s loss came by decision against Cabot senior Benjamin Long.

Quentin Scherer also went 1-1 for Beebe on Tuesday, winning his first match by pin 1:36 into the first round before losing a decision to Cabot’s Nathaniel Bonilla in his final match of the evening.

Garrett Grier dominated his 170-pound weight class – winning both matches by pin in less than 50 seconds. He won his first match 45 seconds into round one, and won his second match three seconds sooner.

With the exception of a handful, the Beebe wrestling team, as a whole, entered last season with little to no experience. Price contributes the team’s progress, just in the past year alone, to the help of his two volunteer assistant coaches, Anthony Robertson and Brian Scholte, both of whom serve in the Air Force.

“Those two guys come and volunteer every day,” Price said of Robertson and Scholte. “They’re both Air Force guys and they come out and spend hours a day helping these kids learn to wrestle. It’s amazing to see these kids pick it up.”

Bo Smith wrestled in the highest weight class for Beebe on Tuesday at 195 pounds. He lost his match by pin to Cabot senior Nathaniel Bundren, but is one of the Badgers’ wrestlers that were new to the sport a year ago, and Price said he’s very much improved from last season, thanks to the work he’s put in and the coaching he’s received from Robertson and Scholte.

“Bo Smith last year was brand new,” Price said. “This year, he looks really good, and I contribute that to those two guys just teaching the fundamentals of wrestling, because it’s really technical.”

Beebe’s first official match of the season will be next year. That match will be Jan. 5 at Badger Sports Arena against Central Arkansas Christian and Greenbrier.