Lowery rarin’ to go again

Published 10:05 am Thursday, November 16, 2017

Davie’s wrestling team suffered injury setbacks before preseason practice even began – not that opponents are feeling particularly sorry for coach Buddy Lowery and his War Eagles.

Davie was looking to return 10 starters in 2017-18, but injuries have sidelined two key guys.

It’s doubtful that senior Crayton Wise will ever suit up again. It’s a big loss at 180. He went 36-16 last year and has a career record of 85-53. He would have been a fourth-year starter if not for a torn labrum in his shoulder.

“He wants to go to West Point,” Lowery said. “He said: ‘If they say I can have an operation, I’m going to have it so when I go in July that it’ll be well.’ I think he’s getting it cut on (Nov. 10). He comes three or four days a week and helps the young people.”

Junior Jesus Olmedo, another shoulder problem, is the other injury casualty. That means losing a big-time weapon at 220/heavyweight. He won the Central Piedmont Conference at 220 as a freshman and sophomore. Last year he placed fourth in the regional and fourth in the state. His career record is 76-17. If he returns, it’ll be late in the season.

“He just had his shoulder operated on and screws put in,” Lowery said. “He’s out of his sling and doing rehab.”

Despite the injuries, expectations are always high for Davie. It always seems to have studs ready to replace the ones who are hurt or have moved on. And 2017-18 is no different.

Last year the War Eagles went 33-2 as a state semifinalist. The only losses were to league rival West Forsyth, which beat Laney to claim its second straight state dual team title. The Titans will carry a 104-match winning streak into the season.

Lowery is beginning his 42nd season, and again he’s rarin’ to go. His career record is 845-129. Davie’s record between 2013-14 and 2016-17 was 117-15. It’s coming off its eighth 30-win season. There are just never any off-years.

“It’s according to where they end up weight-wise,” Lowery said when asked about the 2017-18 prospects. “Like I always say: I’m looking for seven that can pin and one that can stay off his back. I think we’ll be decent. I’d like to think we’re going to be somewhat near where we’ve been in the past. It depends on how hard they want to work and how hard they want to pull for each other.”

Davie will have a superior dude at 220. Junior Anthony Olmedo, Jesus’ twin brother, went 86-25 the past two years at heavyweight. Last year he placed second in the regional and fourth in the state while compiling a 46-6 record. This year he is dropping down a weight class.

Seniors Josh Shore (38-18 last year, 75-37 for his career) and Nick Gillis (45-13 last year) will be bulls at 113 and 119. The list of experienced talent doesn’t stop there.

Senior Hunter Strickland is a third-year starter who went 28-10 last year, including a third-place finish in the regional at 152 and an appearance in the state tournament. He could be at 170 this year.

Senior Joseph Myers went 23-17 last year. He could be at 152. Senior Bryson Hunter went 16-8 last year. He could be at 195. Senior Austin Smith went 16-8 last year. He will be in the upper weights. Junior Peyton Sherrill is another returning starter. Other possible starters include juniors Spencer Hoke, Matthew King, Bill Trader, Colby Shore, Neil Spark, Cody Taylor and Hayes Sales.

Jesus’ injury has opened the door for junior Andy Flores, who will likely take over at heavyweight.

“He’s not a bad heavyweight,” Lowery said. “He just couldn’t beat Anthony.”

The War Eagles can win 20 matches in their sleep, but can they return to the top of the CPC in 2018? Lowery is stuck on 25 regular-season championships after finishing second to West in 2016 and 2017.

Maurice Atwood, who has a ton of state championships between Parkland and West Forsyth, has moved to Glenn. Jason Hooker, the former Ellis Middle coach and longtime Lowery assistant, has taken over at West. Hooker and Atwood coached together at Mt. Tabor in the early 2000s and guided the Spartans to multiple state titles. The CPC crown figures to be a scrum between Davie, Glenn and West.

“I’ve got enough to worry about at Davie,” Lowery said. “I don’t need to worry about (Glenn and West).”

Among Lowery’s assistants are Timmy Allen, Mark McKnight, Perry Long and Carl Wagstaff. There is a new coach on the staff in Isaiah Whitley, who wrestled for Davie’s varsity from 2012-16. He pounded out 121 victories, including a pair of 40-win seasons.

“Isaiah is a heck of a coach,” Lowery said. “He knows his mess pretty good.”