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ROBBINSVILLE HIGH SCHOOL
By Marshall McClung
Wrestling began in Robbinsville High School in 1975, much later than other "conventional" sports. wrestling actually got its start here as the result of another sport - football. Assistant varsity football coach Gary Steppe wanted wrestling introduced to help develop football players, especially the linemen. Other 1-A teams in the Smoky Mountain Conference such as Andrews and Cherokee were starting wrestling teams, and Robbinsville did not want them to get the jump on the "Black Knights."
George Oliver, who had wrestled in high school in Maryland before coming to Graham County was the first wrestling coach. Gary Steppe assisted him the first three years of wrestling at Robbinsville, followed by David Haney. Jerry Crisp, in the 103 pound class was the first Robbinsville wrestler to compete in a match. Oliver said he had forty-three students come out for wrestling for the first day of training. By the end of training, he was down to less than ten wrestlers. This goes to show you the intensity of the sport.
Robbinsville had a hard time in the early days of wrestling here going 0-5 each season from 1976-1978. During the 1978-1979 season, they won two and went on to their first winning season in 1980-1981 when they went 9-5. Oliver coached wrestling from 1975 to 1979 and is credited with laying much of the groundwork for what went on to become a successful sport and a sport of its own at Robbinsville. Wrestlers here are no longer football players looking to build their strength for that sport. Indeed, several of the wrestlers on the present team do not play football, but are on the team simply for the love of the sport and the individual competition it gives.
David Haney began coaching wrestling during the 1978-1979 season. The team went 2-11 that year, finishing in third place in the conference. Haney had wrestled while in school for three years at Pisgah High School in Canton. Haney describes wrestling as a high cardiovascular sport with lots of physical conditioning including running, sit-ups, push-ups, etc. to get in shape for the sport. Haney went on to describe wresting as a "very individual" sport with just you and your competitor facing each other in front of everyone. Haney said he also stressed mental conditioning as well, urging his wrestlers to be able to accept losing and just try that much harder the next time, telling them if the other wrestler won, to "make him earn it." Haney mentioned that wrestling is mentioned in the Bible in Ephesians 6: 12, and also in Genesis 32:24 where Jacob wrestled with an angel of the Lord all night. Haney continued to build on the groundwork laid by Oliver. Robbinsville placed third in the state during the 1980-1981 and 1982-1983 seasons, and second in the state during the 1981-1982 season. They were also Smoky Mountain Conference Champions from 1980-1983.
Ritchie Trammell, the present head wrestling coach at Robbinsville, began wrestling in 1975 when he was 13 years old and in the seventh grade. He also wrestled all four years in high school. Lynn Hooper is his assistant coach. Trammell also wrestled two years while he was in college at University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill. While wrestling at Robbinsville, Trammell, placed fifth in the regionals in the 129 pound class in 1983, fourth in the Sectionals in the 129 pound class in 1983, received All-Conference Honors in the 122 pound class in 1982, was most valuable wrestler, and champion in the Christ School Tournament in 1982, received a most valuable team honor in 1983, held the record for most pins (19) in 1983, most three point nearfalls (17) in 19S2, most reversals (9) in 1981, most wins in a season (25-7-0) in 1983, most team points in a season in 1983, most team points in career, most point matches scored (19), most forfeits in a season (7) in 1981, most forfeits in career (11), most major decisions in a season in 1983, most major decisions in a career, most decisions by 7 or fewer points, most takedowns in a season (28) in 1983, most takedowns in a career (56), most escapes in a season (11) in 1983, most reversals in a career (25), most three point nearfalls in a match (3), most three point nearfalls in a season (17) in 1983, most three point nearfalls in career (31), and most two point nearfalls in career (22).
Trammell invites the wrestling team to his home at the beginning of each wrestling season. They make up realistic team goals that they work toward every day. The goals are posted in the weight room for everyone to see on a regular basis.
An in-house camp is held each year. The coaches and wrestlers meet at the gym and stay overnight. On Saturday morning, they get up around 6:30 A.M. and go for a 30 minute run. The wrestlers mothers usually prepare breakfast with no fried foods. Other activities include training, and watching videos. On Sunday they go to church together. This is done each year. Trammell says it helps keep the team together and teaches them unity, and to not quit on the team or each other.
Wrestling is truly becoming a tradition at Robbinsville. The hard work and conditioning is paying off. Marty Reagan placed eighth in the state in the Heavyweight class in 1982. James Orr was a two time state champion in the 103 pound class in 1992 and 1993. Lynn Hooper was also a state champion. Ryan Oliver held a record for the most wins (110) during his career. Noah Crowe, Arnold Johnson and Mayhew Hollifield were also notable wrestlers.
The wrestling team this year consists of: Wayne Sawyer, Ryan Dutcher, Josh Carver, Seth Hyde~ Sterling Crisp, Dustin Millsaps, Greg Barlow, Trevor Peterson, Drew Hill, Mikie Oliver, Kyle Orr, and Ramie Williams.
Former wrestlers an students lend a hand with the wrestling program. They include Andrew Hyde, Tate Waldroup, Alvin Wachacha, and Travis McCracken.
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This page is maintained by Tom Livingston, Robbinsville, North Carolina