New regime for Radford wrestling
In high school, everybody gets a report card of one sort or another, even the coaches.
Down at Radford, a new wrestling coach is in office for his first season. The end of the regular year grades are in and report cards have been issued. How’s new Bobcats mat boss Chris Acord looking at the end of the grading period?
Considering results at last week’s Three Rivers District meet and grading the coach on a pass/fail scale, Acord earns a highly- meritorious “Pass.”
As any observer of public education knows, keeping track of standards of academic achievement is all the rage these days in public policy. Radford wrestling standards have always been high. They continue to be so.
The grading for the Grappling Standards of Learning is in. Eight Three Rivers District champions, a runner-up, and two thirds was the haul last week. It is true that there are only three wrestling schools in the district also counting Floyd County and Glenvar, but that’s not Radford’s fault. You wrestle whoever shows up.
Acord was accorded coach of the year honors, the athletes accumulated impressive entries in their personal athletic resumes, and the Bobcats sporting community at large rendered a hearty cheer.
Now the hard part. It’s on to Group A Region C competition Friday and today at Rural Retreat then the state tournament next week at Salem Civic Center. Radford figures to be competitive at both tournaments but another grand flourish such as the one last week at district is unrealistic. This weekend, the host team, Parry McCluer, James River, and Graham will all bring stout contingents.
The Bobcats are undeterred, as should be expected.
“I think we should do very well,” said Radford 152-pounder Adam Turk. “At least top five. Next year, I think we’ll have a good shot at state. We’re only losing one senior.”
Turk was among those Bobcats who romped at district. Another was 285-pounder Cody Morgan, the aforementioned lone senior on the squad.
In most respects, Morgan stands alone among Bobcats — literally. Nobody among his schoolmates in the wrestling room can match up with him in terms of size. Typically, he is off to the side doing individual drills at team practices. When he does get down and roll around with a workout opponent on the mat, opposite is either Acord or Morgan’s father, who did some high school wrestling himself.
Either one of the adults is giving up in the neighborhood of 60- 100 pounds in those workouts.
“Both of them go as hard as they can and so do I,” the younger Morgan said. “They both have the experience on me but I’ve obviously got the size on them.”
The coach clearly knows what he’s doing on a mat, though, even approaching age 40. His pedigree in the sport included competition under the auspices of the United States Navy. After moving into civilian life and coaching, he inherited his current squad from former coach Chris Vicars, who married and moved to West Virginia in the offseason.
“I’m trying to teach them the right way to do things,” Acord said. “It’s all mental things, shifts in momentum and things like that. I’m just now at the point in the season that I showing them things I should have been doing a month ago. They’ve embraced all that.”
It’s been an adjustment for the wrestlers.
“Coach Vicars was more of a ground-and-pound kind of coach,” Turk said. “Coach Acord is more technical, more finesse.” Added Morgan: “He stresses the basics and working harder than everybody else.”
Similarly to many teams these days, especially among the smaller schools, Radford does not fill out a complete lineup. The Bobcats vacate the 106, 113, and 120 classes each match.
Among those who do take to the mat, several have had very good years. Ryan Davis (24-11) at 126 and Taylor Ayers (25-13) at 32 are sophomores with bright futures as well as presents. Will Alderman (22-18) at 138 joins Turk in a promising junior class. Also in that group is 160-pounder Alex Wright (18-11) who has had a breakout year. Morgan (34-8) has excelled despite the limitations to his workout schedule.
“I’m really impressed with how eager they are to learn and how much effort they’re putting into getting in shape,” Acord said. “They’re getting their heads on straight and going after things and cutting out the dumb mistakes I wasn’t anticipating at the beginning of the year.”
Acord plans on the long haul as Bobcats boss.
“They’re right on the verge of exceeding expectations,” he said. “I’m real proud of how much they’ve grown and how much maturity they’re now showing.”
-Ray Cox covers recreational, high school and college sports in the New River Valley. If you have information you’d like featured, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 381-1672.
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