Polk Middle wrestlers continue unbeaten march

Published 1:06 pm Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Isaiah Staley stepped to the mat Monday at a most interesting moment for Polk County Middle.

The Wolverines expected a challenge from Brevard Middle, and the Blue Devils were providing one. Just past halfway of their Blue Ridge Conference tussle and Brevard trailed Polk only 36-20, with Staley entering the 145-pound match “probably facing the best kid they have” in Ziek Queen.

Staley met Brevard’s best with his best, winning a battle with Queen with a second-period pin. That began a stretch of six Polk Middle victories in seven matches, securing a 72-29 victory for the Wolverines.

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“Isaiah looked better than he ever has,” said Polk Middle head coach Jerry Cox. “I’m really happy with our leadership and how they’ve been coming along. Isaiah, Chester (Wilson) and Liam (Jackson), they’ve just taken ownership of this team.”

It’s a pretty good group to lead. The win improved Polk Middle’s record to 8-0 overall, 4-0 in BRC East Division matches. It also extended the Wolverines’ undefeated streak to 24 matches, dating back to last season. Polk can make it 25 straight and complete a perfect first pass through the East Division with a win Thursday at Rugby.

Cox, though, takes nothing for granted, especially given that the Wolverines’ success is not far removed from an era in which Polk found wins few and far between.

“That’s something that’s still in the rear view. We never forget where we came from, obviously those first couple of years and even the years before me,” Cox said. “But, it’s pretty neat to have 24 in a row.

“It’s good to see the next generation, this eighth grade, really step up and finally make it their team. They’ve been on division championship teams and very good teams, but it’s never been their team. I think they take a whole lot of pride in their class and even how the young kids do, the beginners and the seventh graders do.”

Wrestling is both an individual and team sport, and one of the things that Cox likes best about his developing squad is the understanding of the bigger picture throughout the lineup. Three of the Wolverines’ match losses Monday were by some type of decision, wrestlers battling to avoid being pinned and giving up the maximum six points.

Those decisions didn’t factor in the eventual outcome this time, but at some future point, could well mean the difference in a team win or loss.

“That’s good to see,” Cox said. “We had a tech fall and gave up two matches by points. Any time you’re doing that in middle school, you’re not getting pinned, it’s a big deal down the road when we’re facing really good teams

“Brevard is very good (in the lower weight classes). And we took some of those really good kids the distance.”