Maintaining that level of success has proven to be a challenge for the Mustangs in their first season in the GHSA.
While Mount Vernon has the individual wrestlers who have been successful so far at the higher level of competition in GHSA, the Mustangs lack the depth that most of their new rivals possess — with only 16 on the roster.
“It’s not the overall quality of my wrestlers; it’s the greater depth in the other teams [in the GHSA],” Mount Vernon coach Mike Edmonson said. “We’re an incomplete team. We only have wrestlers in 10 of the 14 weight classes. Most GHSA teams, from Class A up to AAAAAA, are a lot deeper than we are. They can go two deep in every weight class and that’s hard for us to compete against.”
For Edmonson, there has been positives as well as negatives in the move up to GHSA — one of the good things being a chance to compete against local teams like Holy Innocents’.
“It’s bittersweet, because we’re not wrestling teams that we’ve been competing against over the last few years and we’ve developed good rivalries and relationships there, so that’s the sad part of it,” Edmondson said. “The good part is that we’re competing against teams in our neighborhood. Our kids know their kids and that makes it good. It also gives a chance to show what we’re about in athletics at Mount Vernon.”
Mount Vernon got a big taste of the increased competitiveness of GHSA at the Area 3A duals earlier this month Holy Innocents’, where the Mustangs lost two of their three matches — including an 81-0 decision to cross-town rival and eventual Class A state duals runner-up Holy Innocents’.
“Our lack of depth hurt us,” Edmonson said. “We don’t have anyone competing in four of the weight classes, so we give up 24 points right from the start and you can’t give up that many points and be successful.”
Sophomore George Gavalos, a GISA state runner-up at 195 pounds last year, leads the way for the Mustangs at that weight class.
Trent Ballard (145) and Avery Fisher (138) have also played key roles.
While Mount Vernon has experience its share of challenges this season, Edmonson said help is on the way in the future with the development of a middle school program that will feed more and more promising young wrestlers into the varsity squad for years to come.
“We’re very excited about the future,” Edmonson said. “This is the first year of our middle school feeder program and we have 25 kids — fifth- through eighth-graders — in the program this year. We have 11 who are eighth-graders and who are going to join the varsity next year, so we’ll almost double our size. It’s going to be really exciting for our team.”