NEWBERRY — Two young men are on one mission this Saturday: bring a state championship — or two — back home to their schools.
Davon Powell, a junior at Newberry High School, competes Saturday as he defends his championship in the 106 pound weight class.
His training partner, Whitmire Community School junior Kenny Page, returns to the state championship matches in Anderson looking to add his first championship to his trophy case.
In keeping with the district’s motto “One district, one team and one mission,” the boys have trained together even though they attend different schools.
WCS Wrestling Coach Jarod King and NHS Wrestling Coach Jonah Deureling said training their students together is the way they’ve done it in recent years so the young men have top flight competition to practice against in preparation for the state meet.
During the regular season both represent their individual high schools. Now they are representing their county and they are pulling for each other and pushing one another in practice.
With the assistance of Newberry College wrestlers who serve as volunteer coaches, the two work on quickness, technique, pin moves, escape moves and conditioning.
Powell joined at the advice of Lee Attaway, his middle school coach, who said it would be something he might enjoy after Powell had been cut from the basketball team. Now wrestling is his favorite sport.
He loves the toe tag game (the wrestling version of HORSE in basketball) which is a form of shadow wrestling. The objective is to elude one’s sparring partner and touch his toes. Five toe touches equals a winner.
“My favorite part is the winning,” Powell said. “But I like how there are spots for anyone (dedicated) on this team. If you are on the team everyone gets to be in a wrestling match.”
When not watching collegiate wrestling, he likes playing basketball with his friends. He listens to rap/hip hop, loves to fuel his body with pizza and in full disclosure said he hates running for conditioning. But he does the running because that is what it takes to become one of the best.
He and Page run stadium steps, do agility drills, flip tires, lift weights and run sprints.
The training paid off as Powell finished third in the Zaxby’s Blue Devil Invitational this year, behind two boys who are favorites for the AAAA state championships.
For Deureling, a business education/computer science teacher at NHS and coaching his first wrestling team there, Powell is an example for his teammates.
“I have never met a more calm, collected student-athlete. He really studies his craft and I admire not only his hard work and determination, but the confidence with which he wrestles,” Deureling said.
Powell loves math and wants to be a mechanic when he grows up. He currently is studying auto body at the Career Center.
Kenny Page loves sports and contributes copy to The Newberry Observer’s Whitmire Community School Page for Lavernne Brock’s class.
Page making his move
Page wrestles in the 138 pound class this year. Last year he competed at 132 pounds.
His favorite take down move is the ankle pick were one grabs the opponent’s head and pulls down and at the same time grabs their ankle to push them over.
For escape he uses the hip heist: He gets onto his hands, shoots his knees out and uses his hips for torque to keep the opponent from getting behind him.
For him wrestling is a family tradition. His father and older brother wrestled.
He loves running and said his mixture of speed and his will to win are his biggest strengths in the arena.
His favorite class is history and he wants to become a teacher. Powell also aspires to earn a wrestling scholarship.
“Wrestling is fun, but it’s not a bunch of body slams,” Page said. “You have to put in focus and training to get something out of it and have to work for it. Coach King always tells me that it’s the amount of dedication I have for the sport that makes me stand out.”
WCS coach Jarod King said he sees tremendous potential in Newberry with wrestling.
“We had state champions and a state runner up at NHS last year,” he said. “Kenny is exactly what a coach would want. He gives 100 percent all the time. He has so much heart and if there is extra opportunity to drill, he takes advantage.”
Powell placed first at upper state and Page was close behind this year, finishing third. At season’s end NHS had seven wrestlers on its team and WCS had twelve.
Both young men hope their success can build up wrestling in Newberry and increase interest in it at the high school and college level.