“Win for Merry”

Mount Pisgah’s newest state champions

The+Mount+Pisgah+wrestling+team+defeated+Commerce+48-27+in+the+state+duals+championship%2C+claiming+their+first+team+state+championship+title

The Mount Pisgah wrestling team defeated Commerce 48-27 in the state duals championship, claiming their first team state championship title

Cloey Hixenbaugh, Staff Reporter

Mount Pisgah wrestling has proven themselves a force to be reckoned with once again by winning the team state championship this past weekend. 

Amidst many new protocols due to COVID-19, they also had to find a way to continue to uphold a standard of excellence in the absence of their head coach Josh Merry. 

Merry  was deployed to Kuwait Nov. 1, 2020. Merry’s participation in the Georgia National Guard has always lended itself to the possibility of an untimely departure, however this will be Merry’s first time away from the team due to deployment. 

Merry, along with a few other coaches, have helped build the wrestling program from a few kids wrestling in a lunchroom to a state winning team of excellence.

The absence of Merry worried many wrestlers as he has been such an important part of many of their wrestling careers.

“Coach Merry started the wrestling team. He has coached every kid to wrestle here at Pisgah,” said senior team captain Brad Spence. 

Spence, along with many other seniors on the team were devastated to hear of Merry’s untimely departure in the wake of what has turned out to be such an amazing season. 

“Coach Merry was with us when we had only three to four kids on the team. He was with us when we made it to state the first time. He was with us when we practiced in the lower school lunchroom, and he was with us building a new room to wrestle. When a Mount Pisgah wrestler won state for the first time, he was there. When we placed at state duals for the first time, he was there.”

Spence, along with many other wrestlers, can agree that Merry was no doubt a vital part of their team and his passion for both the sport and his players was evident both on and off the mat. 

“Coach Merry has been at every single moment in Mount Pisgah wrestling history, until this season,” Spence continued. “Everyone involved in Mount Pisgah wrestling has been looking forward to this season, and we were all gutted to learn that we wouldn’t do it with Coach Merry present.” 

However, the team made it a point that Merry would be in attendance by bringing his cutout to as many matches as possible. 

With an amazing team composed of three freshmen, eight sophomores, four juniors, and seven seniors, the Patriots were determined to continue the legacy that Merry worked so hard with them to build. 

In Merry’s absence, the team’s seniors stepped up in a huge way in order to bring the team closer together.

“This team means a lot to me because my teammates have helped me become a better wrestler and person,” said freshman Marley Washington. “Some of my closest friends are on the wrestling team, it’s almost like a second family.”

The seniors wanted this season to be memorable not only for its many accomplishments, but also for its new found traditions. 

“This year we wanted to add something that would bring energy to every match due to inability to have a lot of fans. So we bring this hammer to every match in order to keep everyone excited during duals” said senior captain and 2-time state champion David Bertrand. 

The team has worked so hard to have a great season in Merry’s absence. The team won their area meet then advanced to the sectionals on Jan 23, 2021. They dominated Darlington, Whitfield, and Washington Wilkes. 

All these victories earned them their spot at team state duals. They then went on to win the championship, making this their first state championship title as a team. 

The Patriots hope to finish out their season strong with many great matches and a few more championships at individual area Feb. 5–6 and the traditional state meet Feb. 9–10.