BRISTOL - Every year the dual meet between Bristol Eastern and Bristol Central ignites the end of wrestling season. No matter the quality of the seasons the Rams and Lancers are having, the intensity heightens when they square off, and it creates a more difficult environment to wrestle in.
The Lancers came out victorious for the 10th consecutive year Wednesday night by winning 11 of 14 matches en route to a 49-15 blowout.
“Obviously the rivalry match means a lot to the kids and it means a lot to the schools,” Eastern head coach Bryant Lishness said. “Even if you try to downplay it, it’s still a big deal. A lot of these kids on each of these teams have grown up together. They hang out in the offseason and they’re friends, but this match, this is the bragging rights one. Sometimes in the offseason one kid is winning consistently, but then [the other] ends up winning this match.”
Eastern won three matches by pin, one by technical fall and two by major decision to take first place in the CCC South.
With the postseason swiftly approaching, the sooner the Lancers can learn to control their emotions will greatly benefit their end of year aspirations.
“I was just pleased because it’s a pressure match, no matter what it is a pressure match,” Lishness said. “To see guys listen, breathe in the atmosphere and feel it and then feel the pressure and still perform is a big deal. We talked a lot about that, you’re going to feel the pressure, it’s going to be hard, it’s going to be a lot and you’re going to perform. They really bought into that and they did a good job.”
There are four Lancers on this year’s team that were place winners in the 2019 Class L tournament and all of them earned third place or higher. That includes Tommy Nichols, who is the reigning Class L champion at 132 pounds, and Trent Thompson, who took second place in the class at 106 pounds.
Both Nichols and Thompson also took third place in the State Open, which gives them ample experience in high-pressure matches.
While there is very little that can be done to simulate the feeling of participating in those contests, hopefully they can pass on some lessons or strategies for digesting the gravity of the moment.
“I try to tell the guys to have faith in what we’re teaching, have faith in their ability and to out-wrestle people,” Lishness said. “Sometimes in a match like this you get kind of heated and you try to out-fight and there’s a time and place for that type of heart. I have a lot of faith in my guys that they know how to wrestle no matter what the other guy looks like, no matter what the emotion of the match is. Have faith in your wrestling, relax and try to out-wrestle your opponent; and I thought they did a good job of that.”