ROCKINGHAM — Last winter, the Richmond Senior High School wrestling program knew it had some growing pains to get through. But as the new season of Raider wrestling approaches, those pains are turning into gains.
Under the direction of second-year head coach Andre’ Ellerbe, the Raiders are hoping to capitalize on another year of growth and development in a competitive 3A/4A Sandhills Athletic Conference.
Returning several starters in various weight classes, the Raiders also return five senior captains who bring leadership and knowledge to the mat.
Christian Sanchez (138-pound), Naaman Perakis (152-pound), Jaxson Martin (145-pound) and Messiah Shaw (170-pound) enter their final season as season wrestlers who were starters last year. Amir Martin, a fellow senior, will look to add depth in the 160-pound weight class.
The Raiders finished fourth in the SAC championship as a team last winter, and saw Jaxson Martin and Shaw take second place in their respective weight class.
Richmond will look to improve that standing this year, while also hoping to send more wrestlers to the 4A regional and state tournaments.
Over the last two weeks, the Raiders have spent time gearing up for their first match of the season later this month. With the team more experienced this winter, Ellerbe said the primary focus during the preseason has been on developing more intricate strategies.
Also new this season, Richmond has two female members competing as part of its wrestling program, an aspect that Ellerbe hopes sees continued growth in the future.
Richmond will also boast a fuller lineup over the next couple of months, helping the Raiders fill the gaps that led to automatic forfeits last year. While some wrestlers have solidified their roles as starters, Ellerbe expects a healthy depth chart to compete for time on the floor.
The team’s lower and middle weight classes are made up of freshman Davin Sweatt (106), senior Gael Onesto (113), freshman Jayden Scott (132), sophomore Adam Estridge (138), senior Brandon Pridgen (138), senior Louis Fernandez (145), sophomore Kellie Hodge (145), junior Chance Spivey (145) and freshman Braxton Martinez (160),
The upper weight classes will see the likes of sophomore Jackson Hamilton (182), senior Christian Vazquez Lopez (182), junior Jonathan Davis (195), freshman Jordan Hamilton (195), freshman Timothy Sloan (195), sophomore K’Mauri Morgan (220), freshman Layton Stubbs (220), freshman Laurence Williams (220), freshman Daylyn Goodwin (285) and freshman Demonte Martin (285) battle it out.
Richmond will contend with SAC strongholds Pinecrest and Union Pines high schools, but Ellerbe isn’t counting out the possibility of several individual wrestlers competing for a conference title in his or her respective weight classes.
Also on the schedule are conference opponents Hoke County, Lee County, Scotland and Southern Lee. Richmond will also compete in several tournaments against non-conference teams.
The Raiders will officially open their regular season next Tuesday at Union Pines High School in a tri-match with the Vikings and Southeast Guilford.
The Richmond Observer will continue its coverage of the Richmond wrestling team this winter.
Below is the complete 2022-23 schedule for the Richmond wrestling team. Home matches are bold and conference matches are marked with an asterisk.
Nov. 15 @ Union Pines, Southeast Guilford
Nov. 19 @ Union Pines (tournament)
Dec. 3 @ Pincrest (tournament)
Dec. 9 @ North Moore
Dec. 14 @ Pinecrest, Lee County *
Dec. 17 @ Providence Grove (tournament)
Jan. 4 @ Southern Lee, Union Pines *
Jan. 11 @ Montgomery Central
Jan. 14 @ Montgomery Central (tournament)
Jan. 18 vs. Hoke County, Scotland *
Jan. 22 Conference Tournament @ Hoke County
VIDEO INTERVIEWS: Below are video interviews with seniors Naaman Perakis and Christian Sanchez, as well as Jaxson Martin, Messiah Shaw and Amir Martin.