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Gobble Leads Returning Wrestlers

The Davie wrestling team always has such high expectations that last year’s 21-13 season, including a sweep of the conference championships, was considered a down year.

Considerable inexperience coupled with a mass of injuries resulted in the most defeats in Buddy Lowery’s 37-year career at Davie.

With 14 guys returning who have lots of varsity experience, the War Eagles should take things up a notch in 2013-14.

“I’m not disappointed in how we’re practicing,” Lowery said. “When we get people where they belong, I think we’re going to be better.”

Davie returns three state qualifiers from 2013 – seniors Alex Gobble, Jack Robertson and Nathan Howard.

Gobble is the team’s star with a career record of 111-34. He’s a two-time state qualifier who went 48-6 at 182 last year.

Robertson is also a two-time state qualifier. He went 37-17 last year at 195, and he’s 71-41 in his career.

Howard saw 13 varsity matches as a freshman, but he did not wrestle as a sophomore. Last year he missed time with an injury, but when he was healthy he was really good (29-6 at 170).

Junior Lake Billings was a state qualifier as a freshman, and his career record is 68-46. One of the top guns this year figures to be junior Parker Correll, who made the biggest jump from one season to the next, going from 8-10 as a freshman to 35-16 as a sophomore at 220.

How much better can Davie be this year after finishing fourth in the Midwest Regional and tying for 24th in the state tournament? Lowery isn’t ready to say.

“I don’t know how many concussions we’re going to get, and I don’t know how many sicknesses we’re going to get,” he said. “There’s too many variables to start making predictions. We could be decent. But I’m not giving anything people can put on the bulletin board.

“We have good expectations, but talk is cheap.”

Nine more guys – Jamie Spry, Corbin Kopetzky, Isaiah Whitley, Luis Hernandez, Preston Beauchamp, Bailey Ingram, Josh Lankford, Parker Grant and Javon Adkins – provide significant varsity experience.

The big concern, however, is at heavyweight. Junior Craig Moore, who went a respectable 24-20 as an undersized HWT last year, decided not to wrestle. Josh Hill and Josh McCrary were going to vie for the spot, but Hill was recently lost for the season with an injury that may require surgery.

“We’re going to have small heavyweights,” Lowery said. “We’re going to have to be selective in how we put them out there.”

Davie is a proud, distinguished program. Lowery’s career record is 728-114-2, with Davie winning 24 regular-season championships in the Central Piedmont Conference over 28 years. It’s captured the CPC Tournament 15 times in 17 tries. Last year the War Eagles ran the table in the CPC for the sixth consecutive year.

As great as those numbers are, they don’t have the usual label of prohibitive favorite this year. That’s because realignment pushed Parkland into the CPC, and there’s an aura of invincibility around the Mustangs.

Coach Maurice Atwood’s Mustangs have won 310 straight dual matches and seven straight state dual championships. That’s the longest current winning streak in the country.

“They’re a lot like we’ve been in the past,” Lowery said. “They hear ‘Parkland’ and they draw up, like we were in the ‘90s. They’re good. You’ve got to give them credit. (Atwood) works hard.

“It’s good motivation. Practice like you’ve got to practice to beat Parkland. If you can beat them, you can beat anybody else on your schedule.”