Lake Norman & Mooresville

Former champ gets Huskies off to good start

Hough's Tripp Rogers has had a blast putting together the school's wrestling program.

"It's been a ton of fun opening things up, building things literally from the ground up," said the first-year head coach. "We don't have old traditions that you have to live up to. You make it up all on your own."

Rogers knows that the situation allows him to mold the program the way he envisions it - to get it to a level where it can compete for state titles. The 25-year-old is glad his wrestlers are buying into that idea.

"The guys have jumped in head first and have been working really hard," said Rogers.

He said his Huskies are a "fun bunch."

Although they're young, having no seniors and few wrestlers with previous varsity experience, he's excited by the work ethic and motivation he's seen on and off the mat.

"I can fix mistakes," said Rogers, "but I can't fix not trying."

He admits the determination his wrestlers have shown will pay off in building a wrestling tradition at Hough.

The Huskies kicked off the season with a 3-1 record, losing only to Rogers' alma mater, East Gaston.

Rogers is proud of his team for its start, but he also knows the team could improve significantly if they put in the work.

"The intensity is not quite there yet, but they're stepping it up," he said. "Slowly it's picking up."

Sophomores Adam Nivens (119-pounds) and Tanner Russ (125) have shown a lot of promise with their technique.

Rogers said sophomore Ed Stokes (135) is starting to come along intensity-wise, while junior Christian York (189) has also shown potential on the mat.

Sophomore Palmer Maples (152) and junior Brian Jones (160) have also stood out for the Huskies.

"I'm expecting big things from all of those guys at the end of the season," said Rogers.

York has also seen potential.

"We have a team - a lot of people who just want to wrestle and get better," he said.

The well-respected Rogers may be the perfect guy to help them improve.

"He's got a lot of knowledge of the sport," said Stokes. "He pushes us pretty hard - he knows what he's doing, what he's talking about."

Rogers was a three-time all-state selection and won the 112-pound 4A state championship as a sophomore in 2001.

"I've been there - I know what it's like to win the big one and lose the big one," said the Mount Holly native. "I can relate with them at every level."

"You bring in the old rings and it really gets their attention."

Rogers went on wrestle at UNC Greensboro, where he finished his four-year career with a 24-15 record.

His experience can be helpful when having to explain a grapple or a move to his Huskies.

"When you can get out on the mat and show them what they need to be doing - beat on them if you have to - you get your point across and get their attention," said Rogers.

Stokes agreed.

"We listen to him more because he beats us on the mat," he said.

Rogers said he has lofty goals for the team and the Huskies program.

"I didn't come here just to coach," he said. "I came here to win and to build a state championship program that can be in it year-in and year-out."

With most of the season left, he hopes his team can make some positive strides to give its conference opponents a headache.

"We'd like to fight for a conference title - although it's going to be tough with Lake Norman and Mooresville," said Rogers.

Stokes said he also hopes the Huskies can finish the season with a winning record and get a bid to the state dual playoffs.

"We want to accomplish all those big goals," he said.

Regardless of how the rest of the season goes, Rogers said, he is excited to have this year's squad back for more.

"As good as we are this year, I expect us to be even better next year," he said. "We're going to work hard and we'll see what happens at the end."