Scott Metcalf has been around successful high school wrestling squads before. As an assistant coach at Orange High School he watched the Panthers win the state championship three times.
Heading into his fourth season as head coach of the Cedar Ridge wrestling team, Metcalf feels optimistic about his current group of wrestlers, and he believes the Red Wolves will have a successful season and possibly finish with a winning record.
Blending with a strong group of newcomers are the most returners Metcalf has inherited since he took over at Cedar Ridge. Now, he will just need to identify his starters beginning on Oct. 30, the first day the team can officially practice.
“I’m pretty excited, it’s all about just filling the weight classes as you know,” Metcalf said. “There’s 14 weight classes, so it’s hard to find starters for each.”
Fortunately for Metcalf, the head coach will have time to audition wrestlers for each weight class before beginning the regular season. The Red Wolves will visit Riverside-Durham High School on Nov. 16 for a scrimmage before kicking off the 2019 year on Nov. 20 with a tri-meet involving Walter Williams High School and East Randolph High School.
Other important dates on the schedule include the Red Wolf Invitational on Nov. 23, a home meet against rival Orange High School on Dec. 11, the Chapel Hill Classic Dec. 20-21, and Senior Night against East Chapel Hill High School on Jan. 15.
When the season begins, Metcalf would like to see his squad evolve from the growing pains it faced last year, when it was far less experienced and boasted just three upperclassmen.
“Last year we were just so young,” Metcalf said. “We had three upperclassmen all together of the whole team, much less starters. We went through a lot of growing pains and this year I think just growing up and maturing and building on last year. I think we showed some promise last year, but this year we just got to build on it and just go out there and make it happen.”
For the Red Wolves to reach expectations, they will rely on a quintet of talented wrestlers that led the team last year, including Wyatt Robinson, who finished as an all-Big-8 Conference selection last year and will likely wrestle in the 160-pound slot this season. Joining Robinson are Daina Pritchard, who will wrestle at 126 pounds; and captains James Rosati-Brown at 152 pounds; Ruffin Wyrick at 170 pounds; and Cutter Tate, a Big-8 Conference honorable mention a season ago, at 195 pounds.
“I think those guys are going to be our key contributors this year, looking forward to big things from them,” Metcalf said.
If all goes well, those wrestlers will be the foundation in keeping a talented team focused enough to reach its ceiling this season.
“If everyone buys in and is committed, I think we could have a really good year,” Metcalf said. “I’m hoping, like I said, a winning season. If things come together, maybe a playoff run. It’s a little early for that, but that’s something I would like to see.”