Providence High wrestling has come a long way in three years.
The Panthers won their first SoMeck 8 championship with coach Brett Houghton Saturday at West Mecklenburg with 129.5 points, 33.5 ahead of the host Hawks and 50.5 ahead of South Mecklenburg. The Sabres’ Eddie Allen, a senior who earned the 152-pound title with a win against Providence’s Kyair Dobbs, was named most outstanding wrestler.
“Two years ago when I first got here, we placed fifth at the conference tournament,” said Houghton, who was named coach of the year. “Last year we made lots of improvement and finished second and this year we won the team championship and individual championship. It’s just the hard work from all those guys who did off-season wrestling and ever since September 1 every one of these guys working out in preseason and hard work since then.”
Providence won five individual championships, the most of any school, but showed its depth by advancing six others to podium finishes. Among the first-time winners was junior Grant Kroeschell, who earned the 145-pound title with an 18-5 win against Olympic’s Jerrell Harris.
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“It feels amazing. It feels good,” said Kroeschell, who is in his first full varsity season. “I know it’s going to feel even better to stand on the top of the podium with my bracket and the medal.”
The growth of wrestlers like Kroeschell and Dobbs helped build Providence into the league’s top program. The Panthers’ goal of winning the league title is their first step in advancing to the state tournament.
“These guys come to practice and work hard,” Houghton said. “There’s no secret. You’ve got to come in and bust your butt, work hard and you’re going to be able to pass people because of that effort you’re putting in every day.”