Creekview’s wrestling program is sending three more athletes to college, with Cade Sousa, Andrew Cory and Josh Bledsoe all committing to compete at the next level following the Grizzlies’ dominant 2021-22 season.
Sousa said signing with Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama, was a dream come true. He said Huntingdon felt like a family atmosphere, and between that and the proximity to home, the decision was a no-brainer.
“This is so exciting because it is what I love,” Sousa said. “It is a big part of my life, and it has built me into a better person. I am just excited to have the opportunity to make something happen over the next four years. I am thankful that I can continue my career.”
Sousa said his second-place finish at the state tournament was fuel for him as he prepared for the challenges of college.
With the support of coach Ross Cravens and the rest of Creekview’s staff, Sousa has fought through adversity throughout his career and feels he is ready for college now.
“Anywhere I go, my mindset is one of the things that sets me apart,” Sousa said. “I am always set on a goal, and I will do anything to achieve it. Between practicing, getting up early and running, I want to do things right. I have that drive and chip on my shoulder.”
Cory, a three-time state champion and the 2022 Cherokee County Wrestler of the Year, committed to wrestle at Belmont Abbey College in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Cory won his third career state championship convincingly Feb. 12 and led Creekview to a fourth-place finish at the Class AAAAAA state duals. He credited Cravens with helping develop his craft, and he found new and new joy and appreciation for practices.
Bledsoe was recruited by 15 programs leading up to his signing with Truett McConnell University in Cleveland. He placed fifth in the state this year and was the Region 7AAAAAA champion at his weigh class.
“What really brought me towards choosing Truett McConnell is the environment surrounding everyone and the coaching,” Bledsoe said. “It is a great Christian school with amazing opportunities for me to grow spiritually and academically.”
Bledsoe said he is excited about the grind of collegiate wrestling and the competition it brings on the mat. He understands the work needed to succeed, along with the support he will get from coaches and teammates.
Bledsoe said he learned valuable lessons on perseverance during his time at Creekview and feels like the program helped prepare him for what lies ahead.
“My time at Creekview prepared me for college wrestling because of the adversities I overcame,” Bledsoe said. “It was a mentally tough roller coaster, knowing everything could be good one moment, but it could all change. I am also thankful for my Creekview teammates and middle school coaches, and I know I am in good hands at Truett McConnell.”
Creekview, and Cherokee County as a whole, has made a significant mark on the college wrestling landscape.
Former Creekview wrestlers Eli Daugherty and Wyatt Higgins are both on college rosters after graduating in 2020, with Daugherty at Campbell and Higgins at Reinhardt.
Other county wrestlers to join college programs include Cherokee’s Jacob Silka (The Citadel) and Sequoyah’s Hudson Andrews (Huntingdon) and Charlie Throne (Coast Guard Academy).