Malik Stephenson getting a takedown at the regional tournament.
The 2022-2023 wrestling season came to a close February 18, 2023, following the state tournament.
Churchland High School advanced one wrestler to the state tournament, Malik Stephenson, who won the regional championship at the 215 lbs. weight class, winning by decision 14-8. Also, junior Philip Davis placed 6th in the regional tournament at 175 lbs.
"Honestly man it feels amazing, it's like a blessing from god… I’d be lying if I told you where there were times that I didn’t want to quit or I wasn’t tired. I just remembered my goal and when you have one set you got to achieve no matter what. My next achievement is state champion and it’s coming soon," Stephenson said.
Coach Marriner is extremely proud of Malik for his progress and accomplishments throughout the season.
"I'm real proud of him, last year he got 2nd so for him to come back and get the gold this time, man that's growth… Also, makes me think that we produce great 215's, 220's. The last regional champ we had was a 220, dude named Charles Grant, so we're rocking with that heavyweight side of it, it's golden," Marriner stated.
Even though only one wrestler advanced to the state tournament, Blasieo Joseph believes that this season was a great success.
"Not gonna lie, I’m like really satisfied. Coming from not knowing too much moves to knowing a lot of moves, and you know how to counter them and re-attack some of the moves. Yeah I'm happy about it, feel good,” Blasieo explained.
Senior wrestler Omarion Freeman on the other hand thinks that the team could've done a better job at the regional tournament.
“Yeah I think we could’ve done a lot better at the regional tournament. Um only one person made it to states and I think we all could’ve made it to states if we was determined and not playing around the whole time and took it serious,” Freeman said.
Freeman described his last wrestling season at Churchland as "Meaningful."
Omarion Freeman getting a crucial takedown to send the match into overtime.
Even with the undeniable progress the team has made, there are still some setbacks the team has to deal with.
"As a coach I'm fighting with my kids against themselves, for them to get out of their own way and really perform, and most of the time we beat ourselves up with that," Marriner commented.
The season may be over, but the team is ready to get to work in the off-season.
"I’m still ready for next year, still grinding… Oh yeah I’m ready,” said freshman Victor Smith.
Despite the team's efforts and 11-4 record going into the regional tournament, Churchland finished last in the region this year, but there is still plenty of time for the Truckers to go from the bottom to the top this off-season.
Pictures: Jensen Sciandra