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CCHS wrestling continues growth

Chilton County High School wrestling began last year with practices in the school’s band room, a parent standing in as coach, and a used mat.

In Year 2, the Tigers still don’t have much fancy equipment and still practice in the same room occupied earlier in the day by the Pride of Chilton County Band, but the program does have a full-time coach and some success under its belt.

Kess Cottingham, who led Chelsea’s wrestling teams for the two previous seasons, now coaches CCHS’s young team. The group is composed of 16 students, all sophomores or younger.

Cottingham said he enjoys the challenge of helping young wrestlers improve.

“I enjoy watching the program grow,” he said.

But it’s not all bad even now. The Tigers went 1-1 as a team in a tri-match at Moody on Dec. 4, and one wrestler, Colby Bernier, in unbeaten at 6-0. Bernier finished first in the 152-pound division at the Barry Mask Classic at Wetumpka High School on Nov. 22, and both Dillan Jackson (171 pounds) and Caleb Mims (130) took home fourth-place finishes.

Those results, plus the overall youth of the team, lead Cottingham to talk about his team’s potential. The key, he said, will be if the Tigers can keep from getting discouraged after they face older, stronger competition all year.

“We look good for a young team,” he said. “If we keep the guys out there that we have now, we have a chance to be good.”