To fully prepare for his senior wrestling season, Sam Grey is looking beyond the grounds of Cattaraugus-Little Valley Central School.
Grey, after all, is the only senior on the Timberwolves’ wrestling team, and a two-time fourth-place finisher at sectionals. Otherwise, C-LV has one junior, five sophomores and four freshmen. So coach Rex Brown said he understands Grey needs to practice with more wrestlers than just his teammates this season.
“He’s got his goals set for placing at states,” said Brown, a fifth-year C-LV head coach with 33 years of wrestling coaching experience including head or assistant coaching at Pine Valley and Salamanca. “It’s a lofty goal but definitely one he is capable of. He’s just been continuously improving and working in the offseason, working all the time on everything and just going wherever he can to find good workouts and pick peoples’ brains and get better. I think my job this year is just to make sure that he has good workout partners and gets the workouts that he needs to get him there. That’s the biggest thing.
“You can see from the roster that we don’t have a lot of other experience on the team so it’s going to be a little difficult to do that at our place only. So he’s traveling and getting workouts wherever he can with good people.”
Grey (152/160 pounds) went 37-7 last season. Brown thinks Grey was a close semifinal match away from a potential at-large state bid last season.
“I think he deserved to get a reversal and back points, but the way the rules were written, it wasn’t a pinning combination,” Brown said. “But he initiated everything and held the other guy, exposed his back, but at the same time he was exposing his own back. But since it wasn’t a pinning combination they didn’t give him a reversal.
“Had he gotten second in the section last year I think he might have had enough bonus points to get an at-large bid to go to states. But it didn’t happen and that’s the way it goes.”
Brown assisted Grey’s father, Sam, in recent years before returning to the head job this year. He said the younger Grey has worked to even out his repertoire of moves this season.
“Getting a little bit better off the bottom,” Brown said. “That’s one of the things that was holding him back, I think. Just a little bit more confidence off the bottom, being able to say, ‘Yep, I can get away from anybody and they’re going have a really hard time holding me down.’ Last year I saw a huge improvement on him being able to turn people and get some back points, so that helped and he’s still doing that now. And he’s always been pretty decent on his feet, either scoring takedowns or at least defending.
“So if he can defend a little bit better on his feet and get the confidence so that he can always escape, he can go all the way.”
C-LV’s YOUNGER wrestlers got their first taste of tournament matches last weekend in the Southwestern junior varsity tourney.
Freshman Christian Snyder (138) came away with a 3-1 weekend.
“He’s only got a couple years of youth experience,” Brown said, “so I didn’t know much about him but he showed some good body awareness and some good things this weekend and ended up getting three wins and only one loss on the weekend. So I was excited for him.”
Freshman Christian Hines was 13-20 last year as an eighth grader, highlighted by fourth-place finishes at the Portville and Franklinville tournaments.
“He didn’t wrestle this weekend but I’m looking forward to him doing some good things,” Brown noted of Hines. “He’s come a long way since last year and working hard. The whole group is learning every day and that’s what I’ve told them from day one. We’re all young, learn from each other, just improve every day. That’s about it. I told them don’t worry about results right now, just keep working hard and learn and learn and learn.”
The Timberwolves were set to begin duals on Tuesday, Dec. 4, at Randolph. Given the team’s youth, Brown isn’t focused on team wins and losses at least to start the season.
“Looking for the end of the year results to just try and improve every day and get better so at the end of the year, we peak,” Brown said. “That’s about it. If we can get four kids to qualify for sectionals, I’ll be very, very happy.”