The Patrick Henry Community College wrestling team had its first athlete sign a letter of intent last week, but Patriots coach Justin Smith said that wasn’t the first wrestler to commit to the program.
Smith said he has one wrestler from Richmond, who was state runner-up in his weight class, committed, as well as another from the Chesapeake area and six or seven from the Roanoke area who are almost locked-in to join the new program in the fall.
PHCC announced Smith as the head coach of a newly created wrestling program in May of 2020. He comes from Franklin County High School, where he was coach for three seasons.
PHCC converted one of the buildings on campus into a wrestling facility. The team originally intended to begin competing last fall, but the coronavirus pandemic pushed that back a year.
Patrick County High School senior Trey Robertson signed his letter of intent to join the Patriots on March 26, to first to hold a signing to join the team.
“He’s kind of like the catalyst for a couple more,” Smith said of Robertson’s signing.
Smith said the goal is to have enough wrestlers to fill all 10 weight classes and have backups for each one.
“We’re still growing but it’s exciting,” Smith said. “It’s a big signing and I’m glad Trey is kicking that off for us… Patrick County has a strong program, it’s growing. It helps to have people who are used to competing at the state level.”
The Patrick County High School wrestling team sent a school-record six athletes to the VHSL Class 2 state tournament in February. Robertson has finishes of second and third at the Region 2C championships with the Cougars, and has twice competed in the VHSL Class 2 state tournament, including this season the 152 weight class. He’s been wrestling for six years.
As of last Friday, Smith said the Patriots have four events on the schedule for this winter, mostly in the Roanoke Valley and in Danville at Averett University.
“It’s just a smarter route to go,” Smith said of PHCC. “You’re saving money you get to stay home. For the most part you get to stay home… You still get a good quality education and still compete against Division I, Division II, NAIA schools. You get the most bang for your buck at this route, in my opinion. And I wrestled Division I. If this would have been around for me, I definitely would have taken advantage of it.”
Cara Cooper is a sports writer for the Martinsville Bulletin. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org