With eight returning letter winners from last year’s squad – including three state qualifiers – Vance High’s boys wrestling team looks primed for another step forward this season.
Led by senior captains Drequan Williams and twin brothers Jacob and Josh Motsinger, the Cougars are expecting to build on last year’s 17-15 season with the guidance of second-year coaches Casey Boyle and Pedro Truesdale.
“They’re experienced,” said Truesdale of his three captains. “They’ve been wrestling for a long time now. They just make us better, because they know what to do in the room, as far as practice goes.
“They know how to conduct themselves on the mat whenever they’re facing opponents, and they’re leaders.”
Of the three, Williams, who finished this past season 44-13 at 152 pounds, is the easiest to hear before matches.
“Josh and Jake lead more by their wrestling on the mat,” Truesdale said. “Drequan is more of the conductor. He gets the guys going in the right direction and doing what they need to do in practice.”
Josh Motsinger finished this past season 47-7 at 138 pounds, while Jacob went 36-17 at 126 pounds.
The brothers got into wrestling at age 6, when a friend of their father who owned a gym offered to teach them.
Growing up with a twin brother made for plenty of opportunities to train in the Motsinger household.
“We’re very competitive, and that makes us work even harder than anyone else,” Jacob Motsinger said. “During practice we’re able to communicate without even needing to say things out loud, just because we’ve been doing this together for so long.”
Though they were born on the same day and grew up in the same house, Jacob and Josh have varying styles on the mat.
Both began playing football at an early age. But once high school rolled around, Josh stepped away from the gridiron and focused more of his free time on learning wrestling techniques.
As a result, Jacob – who didn’t wrestle his sophomore year – is more explosive, while Josh is technically stronger.
The Motsingers’ improvement has caught the eye of rival coaches, including Mallard Creek’s Ben Barry, who took over that program this season after coaching Independence to three consecutive conference titles.
“We’ve been wrestling (the twins) for years, and it’s been nice to seem them mature and come into their own,” said Berry, whose team is led by returning state qualifier Ikeem Allen.
“They both have a lot of natural talent, and I know they’ve put a lot of offseason work in this past year to really take things to the next level,” Barry said. “For this area they’re two of the best, and they’re going to be tough to beat this year.”
A younger wrestler to watch out for on the Cougars roster this season is sophomore Chris Moungle, who took up the sport last year and spent all summer training alongside the Motsingers.
Both Motsingers were disappointed with their work in last year’s state tournament and are more determined than ever this season.
“I’m pretty motivated to get back ,” said Josh, who lost to Hoggard’s Phillipe Frederick and West Forsyth’s Willaim Scott in last year’s 4A state meet. “I’ve just been training every day and trying to get extra workouts in. I want to know what it feels like to be a state champ and get on that podium.”
Jacob chimed in, too.
“It was the first time (I’ve made it to states),” he said. “I knew what to expect. The first match went well, but in the second I just kind of choked a little bit.
“The whole experience of going was great. The intensity level was ridiculous. Just the amount of people in the stands is amazing,” Jacob said.
“Just having those full bleachers, 1,000 people watching you, and to finally get what you’ve been working to accomplish all year would be amazing.”