Randy Wolfe, the former head coach at Ridge View and Blythewood, takes over the Hammond wrestling program this season, and is looking to guide the Skyhawks back to the top of the SCISA heap.
Hammond’s iron grip on the independent schools championship was finally broken last season by Cardinal Newman.
“The season is looking bright for us,” said Wolfe.
“There were no seniors on the team last year, so we return a full team, including several state champions. Hopefully, with a lot of hard work, and maybe just a little bit of luck, we can bring the title back to Hammond. Without a doubt, that is our number one goal this season. We had a tough loss in the finals last year, and are working hard to try and prevent that from happening again. Last years loss was a wake up call to a lot of our guys. I think we are a better team now than we were in the finals then. We still have a lot of work to do between now and the January. We are going to take it one match at a time, and do our best to get better every day.
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“I think we have a good shot and contending for the title, however it will not be an easy road. Cardinal Newman graduated a lot of guys, however they also have a lot of depth to fill in the weight classes of former seniors who have departed. They will be tough this season. Heathwood will also have a strong team this year as well. They may be the sleeper team in SCISA this year.”
Gervais Baker, Guys Castles, and Joseph MacDougal are Hammond returning state champions. Baker was a first-time champ at 103 pounds. Castles was the winner at 130 a year ago and previous was a champion at 103. McDougal earned his first title last season at 215.
Matthew Kay and Bradford MacGillvary also have state championships on their resumes, but both had to settle for runner-up honors a year ago at 103 and 140, respectively.
Veterans Reb Boyd and Harrison Dobbs also return. Boyd was the 145 runner-up last season.
Hammond has a good number of promising youngsters in the mix, including Gantt and Ray Castles, the young brothers of Guy Castles, and heavyweight Cody Sims.
Wolfe is clearly excited about taking over an established powerhouse program.
“I’ve had three goals since I began my head coaching career seven years ago,” he said.
“I’ve accomplished two of them. Now more than ever, I’m gunning to accomplish the third one. When I coached at Ridge View and Blythewood I always had winning a state title in the back of my mind, but never got close enough to reach out and touch it. Now, at Hammond, it is no longer a quite whisper, but a constant thought that fuels my ambition more than ever.”