“We were very competitive at the Titan Cup. We had two champions, Josh Salter and Jaire Mondesir. As well as two fifth-placers, Michael Nixon and Keenan Pace,” said head coach Joe Kraft.
All four of these athletes are juniors. Salter wrestles at 170 pounds, Mondesir wrestles at 182 pounds, Nixon wrestles at 145 pounds and Pace wrestles at 152 pounds.
Kraft named Mondesir and Salter as the top wrestlers for East.
What makes these victories so meaningful to the Raiders is how young their team is. Despite the lack of experience, these athletes keep working hard and pushing towards gold with the older guys leading the way.
“We are a young team, but we are improving from week to week and that is all you can ask for,” Kraft said.
While Kraft said “experience, experience, experience” is the team’s current weakness, he realizes the progress his wrestlers have made since the beginning of the season.
One reason the team has improved is also the team’s strength, according to Kraft — their ability to learn from each other. With many of the wrestlers being new to the mat, they have had to teach each other a lot to progress through the season as well as they have, he said.
Now that the team duals are over for the season, Kraft has seen a change in how each individual prepares for their duals.
“They are picking up focus and intensity,” Kraft said.
He said the traditional duals allow for each wrestler to step out and showcase their own talents and skills.
Kraft said he feels like things could play out well for some of his wrestlers. The area traditional tournament Friday and Saturday at Allatoona High School begins the road to the state tournament.
“The greatest thing about the area tournament is that everyone is 0-0; anything can happen. If we wrestle at our peak, the sky is the limit,” said Kraft.