Skill, experience and work ethic help four standout wrestlers build tradition at Hickory Ridge
By Jonathan E. Coleman
For any athletic program aiming to build a program from scratch, finding leadership early in the season is important to being competitive and establishing success.
Doing so, however, can be challenging, especially if the school is new and has no senior class.
For Russell Dailey, the first-year wrestling coach at Hickory Ridge High School, finding leadership hasn’t been as difficult as one might imagine.
On a team of 35 wrestlers, including eight freshmen who fill more than half of the starting roster, Dailey very quickly found leadership on the mats in four wrestlers with very different styles and worth ethics.
Despite their differences, the four have found success early in the wrestling season, and have begun to build a strong wrestling tradition at Hickory Ridge.
Caleb Eudy, Anthony Greco and Colby Lemmond are juniors on the Ragin’ Bulls team. All three wrestled together at Central Cabarrus before coming to Hickory Ridge.
“They’re all different kinds of captains. They’re the ones that are veterans, experienced when they come out on the mats,” Dailey said. “Their presence says it all.”
Dylan Lee is a freshman, who has grown up fast as a leader in his first year of wrestling at the high school level and only his second year in the sport.
“It’s a lot harder because the guys are a lot faster and quicker,” Lee said of high school competition. “Most of them have been wrestling all their lives. It’s a lot more competition.”
To keep up with the competition, Lee says he works hard and tries his best every match. That kind of dedication and work ethic is what earned the freshman and his three junior teammates the honor of captain on this year’s team.
Russell expects a great deal from his wrestlers, often practicing on Saturdays and holding morning runs at 6 a.m.
“Every one of them is here,” he said. “They want to be better. They want to be good. My hardest part is over with. Now they can take it and go.”
And having the wrestlers take control is part of Dailey’s coaching philosophy.
“My overall goal as a coach and a PE teacher is to come into a room and see them getting after it — to be able to see them almost run practice themselves,” he said.
Having the athletes take ownership in the team, Dailey said, further motivates them to do their best, and in doing so benefits the team as a whole, and that will help Dailey work towards his other goal — building wrestling as a sport not just at Hickory Ridge, but across the state.
“I’m trying to build a wrestling program for North Carolina, not just for my school. If they’re on the mats trying to improve themselves, I don’t care who they are.”
While he enjoys being a leader on the team, Greco said there’s still a lot of work to be done and leading by example is the best way to motivate his teammates.
“We’ve still got a lot to learn as a team,” he said. “We’re just going to work hard and try our best. We want to get better every day.”
• Contact Jonathan E. Coleman at [email protected] or 704-789-9105.