CHS wrestling program rebuilding after state title

By Donna Lampkin Stephens

Conway’s Wampus Cats had hoped to repeat the school’s first state wrestling championship in 2012, but some personnel losses have caused them to re-evaluate their goals.

Ray Sessions, the Wampus Cats’ head coach for wrestling and assistant in football, left last summer for his first head football job at Rison Woodlawn. Will Frazier, who started wrestling at Ashdown, replaced him.

But some wrestlers the Wampus Cats had counted on for a possible repeat have fallen by the wayside, so Frazier said his team was in rebuilding mode.

“Right now our main goal is taking care of ourselves and making sure these young guys improve each time they go out,” he said.

The varsity roster includes three seniors (Josh Ashley-Pauly in the 152-pound weight classification; Garrett Bryant in 170 and David Fulford in 220), three juniors (Dylan Watts at 113, T.J. Ruth at 132 and Ben Hughey at 182); three sophomores (Nick Walker at 126, Quentin Day at 195 and Aaron Alexander at 285) and five freshmen (Drew Minister at 106, Wyatt Hardy at 120, Coltin Morgan at 138; Deshawn Carter at 145 and Collin Condit at 160).

Fulford and Watts wrestled in the state meet last year.

“There were quite a few coming back, but over the course of the year, we’ve lost several guys we were counting on to place, some due to injuries and some who didn’t take care of their schoolwork,” Frazier said. “We’ve transformed from quite possibly the team to beat to a very young team. We’re having some growing pains in the middle of the year, and we’ll try to get a lot of guys experience for next year.”

At press time, the Wampus Cats were 19-9 in dual meets. They’ll compete in the Class 7A/6A state meet Friday, Feb. 10, and Saturday, Feb. 11, at UALR’s Jack Stephens Center. Conway finished eighth in the inaugural state tournament in 2009 and fifth in 2010.

Frazier said Fulford, Watts, Condit and Bryant could do well in the state meet. Fulford has a 27-1 record, having won his classification in the Fayetteville tournament and taking second at Central Arkansas Christian. Watts took fifth at CAC.

Volunteer coach Jayson Howard returns. Jeff Hardy is a new volunteer this season.

“They’ve done a fantastic job working with the younger kids and bringing them along,” Frazier said.

Frazier, 32, was hired in July. He spent three years as head football coach and athletic director at Ashdown. He coaches wide receivers for the Wampus Cat football team.

“Conway is a great school district to be a part of,” he said. “The football side of it was very attractive. Wrestling-wise, like any program in the Conway School District, is a good, solid program. Things are done right. The opportunity to be part of a program like that is very enticing as a coach.”