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Wrestling Bucs young this season but Orr likes potential of team

TENNERTON – Buckhannon-Upshur head wrestling coach Jacob Orr is inheriting a relatively young and inexperienced team for the 2023-24 season, but that doesn’t mean he still doesn’t expect great things from this year’s squad.

“We are light on seniors with just three but that seems to be a reoccurring theme for us,” noted Orr. “It seems like we are young every year.”

The Bucs three seniors are Oscar Blonn, Liam Garcia, and Dirk Riley. Blonn and Garcia are four-year members of the team while Riley is in his second year.

“We really only have two seasoned seniors, a couple of first-year wrestlers and four freshmen,” stated Orr. “Wrestling is a tough sport. It is a big commitment for a freshman to make it to their senior year. It takes a lot of time and if the kids aren’t ready for that commitment, we lose them.”

Orr said his preseason has been a learning process with such a young team.

“We started off seeing where everyone was at with so many new wrestlers on the team,” remarked Orr. “It has been a slow process thus far. I wish we were further along at this point, but it can’t be that way this year with so many green and young kids on the team. We are trying to get everyone up to speed at this point.”

Orr put his team through the Big 10 Conference scrimmage this past Saturday and was overall pleased with how it went.

“This is only the second year we have went to it,” stated Orr. “I used to shy away from it for various reasons because I wasn’t sure going live that early would be beneficial. But we went last year, and I found out that the team got a lot out of it. This year it was a good base for seeing where all our new guys are and what we have to do to continue to grow and get ready for the rest of the season.”

Orr currently has 19 wrestlers on the roster but doesn’t think he will be able to fill out all 14 weight classes this season.

“I think we will be short in maybe one or two weight classes this year,” said Orr.

The forfeits in weight classes may hurt the Bucs in terms of team scoring in duals, but that is something that has never been a concern for Orr.

“Team scores and wins and losses takes care of itself when the individual does what they are capable of,” remarked Orr. “Win or lose, I am more concerned about how they compete. At the end of the day sometimes you just wrestle people that are better than you. Sometimes you lose that much, but if you go out and wrestle hard and get after it that’s okay because you wrestled a good match, your opponent knows that, and we will work on closing that gap. If you don’t give it your all, there is no gap to close.”

With the continued growth of girls wrestling at the high school level, Orr will have four girls compete for him this season in sophomores Maya Garcia, Brianna Howes, Emma McGinnis, and Abby Radabaugh. Garcia, Howes and Radabaugh competed last year while McGinnis is a newcomer to the team. “

“Girls wrestling continues to grow in the state,” noted Orr. “The numbers are growing nationwide, not only in the state. I think when states started implanting all-girl tournaments, I think more girls feel they can compete. I think it made it more appealing.” Orr said the girl’s state championships will coincide with the boy’s tournament this year in Huntington.

The Bucs will have four home matches this year including hosting the Big 10 Conference Championships on Feb. 9-10.

“We are so used to being on the road, but I think being at home for the conference championship is nice for the team. Our team can sleep in their own beds, and they aren’t on a long bus ride. It will be fun to wrestle in front of our home crowd.”

Orr said with the season right around the corner, that he knows he needs to be patient with his young team.

“We need to trust the process and that includes me as well,” stated Orr. “Sometimes it’s really hard for me to take my own advice. We are young but I have faith in what we are doing and if the wrestlers do as well, we will be in a whole different place at the end of the season.”

The Bucs were slated to open their season Thursday at home in dual with Lewis County before going to the eastern panhandle Saturday for the Elite Opener at Washington High School.

B-U ROSTER

Seniors

Oscar Blonn

Liam Garcia

Dirk Riley

Juniors

Alex Casto

Ian Cornett

Andrew McDowell

Jeremiah Thompson

Colton Wendling

Sophomores

Domenic Castillo

Maya Garcia

Brianna Howes

Jeremy Jett

Emma McGinnis

Abby Radabaugh

Aidan Phillips

Freshmen

Kyzer Hernadez

Breyer Jackson

Aidan McDermott

Chance Morgan

B-U SCHEDULE

Nov. 30 – Lewis County Dual

Dec. 2 – in Elite Opener at Washington High

Dec. 15-16 – in Jefferson Duals at Jefferson High

Dec. 27-28 – in Clash at the Creek at Tuscarora High (Md.)

Jan. 3 – Fairmont Senior Dual

Jan. 12-13 – in Winner’s Choice Tournament at Fairmont

Jan. 20 – in Williamstown Tournament at Williamstown High

Jan. 27 – in Brooke Classic at Brooke High School

Jan. 31 – in Parkersburg Quad at Parkersburg High

Feb. 3 – Home Quad with Bridgeport, Preston, and Huntington

Feb. 9-10 – Big 10 Conference Championships at B-U

Feb. 17 – in Region I Championships at Bridgeport

Feb. 29-March 2 – in West Virginia State Championships at Huntington

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