“Tough” and “coachable” were the words second-year Etowah wrestling coach Casey Wingard used to describe this season’s group.
The Eagles have seen a top-tier slate of tournament competition this year, and it has made for some interesting battles. Wingard scheduled some of the best teams he could for Etowah to challenge, including multiple programs that were ranked highly on preseason lists.
“We are coming together as a team,” said Wingard, an Etowah alum who won two state championships as a wrestler. “We are continuing to build the program with my focus and the team’s focus. I want them to understand the program aspect of it. We have had individual kids wrestle very well and battle kids who were state-placers and champs.”
Though Etowah did not always win those matchups, Wingard was excited to see his wrestlers hold their own. The Eagles avoided pins and pushed the highly ranked opposition to the brink, and Wingard said he would take the small victories.
One of Etowah’s most important events of the season, the Region 5AAAAAAA duals, is approaching. The Eagles will host the event, which will also include Cherokee, Milton, Roswell, Woodstock and Alpharetta.
The highlight of Etowah’s season thus far was the Mountain View Duals, where Etowah coming in as the overwhelming underdog.
“I explained to our kids that it would be one of the hardest tournaments they would have this year,” Wingard said. “Everybody needed to get on board and build each other up. I was just looking for competition. I was not necessarily looking to get pins, and we were fighting the hardest teams.”
Though Etowah did not win much at Mountain View, it only increased the drive and determination of the wrestlers. The way the Eagles responded to Wingard’s challenge added to his optimism.
Etowah as a whole is trending the right way, eclipsing the 50-wrestler mark in terms of its roster and even sending two varsity teams to separate events for the first time.
Wingard credited multiple wrestlers with helping push Etowah toward success.
Joseph Lago had the most wins on the team last season and continues to assert himself as a leader, while also serving as the perfect bridge between the coaching staff and wrestlers.
Ty Videkovich has also left his handprints all over Etowah’s challenging schedule. Wrestling in multiple weight classes, the senior is looking to finish strong after his 2020-21 competition was cut short.
“Last year, he started hitting his stride at the end of the season where he was battling some of the top guys in the state,” Wingard said. “He was very hungry, but he got COVID-19, and his season was ended right before region. Now, we have him back. He is very focused and determined.”