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Saturday, March 2, 2024

Paris Competes in First Wrestling Meet in Program History

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DOVER- The newly added Paris Eagles wrestling program competed in its first meet in program history last week at Dover High School. The Eagles competed in a tri-meet with Dover and Maumelle High Schools. And although the Eagles struggled to score, it was a milestone for the young program that was approved by the district just a few short months ago.

RNN Sports had the opportunity to visit with new Paris wrestling coach, Andrew Cannon, last week in a telephone interview. Coach Cannon is both an enthusiast for the sport as well as an ambassador for the sport of wrestling in high schools across the state. Having competed in the sport himself, as well as having coached the sport, Cannon’s enthusiasm is undeniable and forms the foundation of a sport that has a very promising future in Paris.

Coach Cannon has the program started and from this point forward it is a process of the athletes gaining experience and continuing to train in the sport. I asked the Coach for his assessment of where the program is at this early point in their inaugural season, and Coach shared, “We actually have a couple of kids that are already super good. They are really aggressive and real tough, and so we have a real chance of at least placing them this season and we are anxious to see how it plays out. Our kid at 113 lbs., Adam Daniels, he was matched against the number one kid in his weight class the very first match. He was the number one kid in the state that placed (at state) last year, and the match came down to points. Adam had that kid so tired and wore out that he laid in the corner for about five minutes trying to breathe, so it was super cool to see our kid do that to the number one kid in the state. The score from the meet looked the way that it did because we are so new as a program that we had kids (about half of the team) that has only wrestled for about two weeks. But it was tough; we didn’t just give up pins, we competed.”

Coach Cannon was quick to give all of the credit for the team’s early success to the athletes. “The credit is all theirs; the first thing we try to do is to just buy into the culture of the sport. Wrestling is so different from the other sports. The credit goes to all of those guys.”

Now that the season has started, RNN Sports wanted to share with our readers the information on the program with respect to the number of athletes participating, weight classes, and other facts associated with the program to help our readers become acquainted with the program and the sport of wresting. Coach Cannon explained, “We started out the first season with a decent number of kids who had expressed interest in the program. We had a bunch fall off, so we are now closer to 14 kids (after starting with approximately 30). There are 14 weight classes and right now, we are competing in about ten. Then we have one girl who is competing in the 235-weight class. She is the only girl in the program; there is another girl that is thinking about joining, so we will see if she comes along.”

Players competing in the Paris High School wrestling program and their weight classes include:

BOYS

Adam Daniels 113 lb class

Alex Wells 132 lb class

Ashton Carter 138 lb class

Jude Rainwater 144 lb class

Aiden Boyd 150 lb class

Joe Butler 150 lb class

Caleb Lau 157 lb class

Joel Johnson 165 lb class

Zachery Varnell 175 lb class

Caiden Howard 190 lb class

Dylan Core 215 lb class

Clay Walker 215 lb class

Whitman Patton 285 lb class

GIRLS

Madison Case 235 lb class

The wrestling mat that has been ordered by the district has not yet arrived. Coach explained, “The company that we ordered from, and at the time we ordered it, was busy making mats for a lot of the larger national meets. So, our mat is on back order and will not arrive until the end of December. Now, we are barrowing a mat from Dover High School. Me and the coach at Dover are good friends. He had an extra one and we are barrowing their mat and have had it for about two months.”

But the mat being on back order is not the primary reason the team will not have any home meets during their first season. Coach said, “The major factor in not having a home meet this year was the lack of experience we have with the sport itself. In pretty much the entire county, I am about the only guy (wrestling coach) that has wrestling experience, at least, have wrestled recently, and there are just not enough people in the area that we need to have. We haven’t figured that out yet. So, we wanted to wait one year to gain more buy-in for the program and things like that, and we think that next year we can host some meets.”

The Paris program competes in a “North Conference” of schools in Classes 1A – 4A who all compete together. Paris is eligible this year to compete in the state meet for state titles in all weight classes. Coach explained, “We have conference (meet) on February 17, and we will have to place in the top four in conference to qualify for the state meet.”

Standouts in the program at this early point in the Eagles’ first season include Jude Rainwater who won his match at Dover a few weeks ago. Football player Whitman Patton, competing in the heavyweight class, according to Coach, “moves super well for a heavyweight. He hasn’t wrestled anyone yet who is super good, but we are curious to see how that will turn out. But the way he moves for a guy his size, is very unique. A lot of other big guys don’t usually see the things he can do. So, I feel like he is going to do very well.”

It takes a lot of dedication and practice to compete in the sport of wrestling. Not surprisingly Coach Cannon is investing considerable effort this first season in introducing the wrestling culture of training, workouts, diet, techniques, etc., that all require discipline and dedication to being competitive in the sport. But in saying all of that, Coach is very complimentary of the Paris athletes and the toughness they possess that will give them the chance to be good wrestlers.

RNN Sports will bring you coverage of the Paris wrestling program’s meet on January 18 at Subiaco. We will have special online coverage as well as a photo spread on RNN Sports’ Facebook page at “Team Press Pass”, as well as on Facebook at Paris Eagles Sports.

We wish Coach Cannon and the Paris Eagles all the best in their first season! We look for great things from this program!

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Jim Best
Jim Best
Jim Best is a man of many talents. His storied career in Arkansas education led him to a new passion, and hidden gifts in sports journalism.
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