Two Raider wrestlers headed to TN AAU Wrestling championships on Sunday

Moore County Middle School Wrestlers Evan Miller and Aston Dorsett are headed to the Tennessee State Middle School Championships on Sunday. (Photo Provided)

LEBANON, Tenn. — The Moore County Raiders Wrestling Program is young compared to some legacy sports like football, basketball, and baseball but despite the fact that 2022-23 will only be the program’s third year, its student athletes are already having tremendous success. The program is run by former Raider football star Kevin Pearson.

In the program’s first year, former MCHS star athlete Kaden White powered through his Region Final match to earn a spot in the Class A State Finals in the 170 pound weight class. He ended up settling for TSSAA Class A State Runner Up and earned a TSWA All State Team nod.

In February, Moore County Wrestling’s Shiloh Bryan also made her way to the TSSAA State Championship for girls’ wrestling in the 185 weight class. It was her first year on the team and her first year to make it all the way to state. {To read our complete coverage of her journey, click here.}

And today, two middle school wrestlers, Aston Dorsett and Evan Miller, will be headed to Lebanon for the Tennessee State Middle School Championships. Both are eight graders at Moore County Middle School. This will be Aston’s second year with the wrestling program and he will wrestle in the 140 weight class on Sunday. This is also Evan’s second year on the wrestling team and we will wrestle in the 189 weight class on Sunday.

Like a growing number of football players, both wrestlers play on the gridiron in the fall and switch to wrestling during the winter months. Both plan to play for the MCHS Raiders next year as a freshman.

The Times caught up with them recently to discuss the new sport and what it takes to be successful.

Despite its new arrival in Moore County, Boys middle school and high school wrestling is a popular sport across the U.S. with over 250,000 student athletes participating. Evan say that the idea of an individual sport as opposed to a group sport was what originally drew him to wrestling. It’s a sentiment Aston shares.

“I saw that it was a sport that would make me work harder than any other sport I’ve played,” he says. “It was pretty challenging at first, especially the running. The conditioning is hard, but I need the discipline.”

Wrestling is a very physically demanding sports the requires not only strength but also endurance, and agility. It’s something both wrestlers feel like they’ve made progress as in the past two years.

“I used to be heavy. I was a chunky kid,” Aston says. “Wrestling has help me be good to body my and make better choices.”

“I definitely seen positive changes. It’s really challenging but I like that,” Evan says. “All the running and learning the moves can be a lot of work.”

“You’ve really got to be athletic,” Aston adds. “It’s all about perfect timing and seizing opportunities.”

In wrestling, judges award points for takedowns, escapes, reversals, and near falls. Matches are typically three periods of two minutes each, although the time can vary depending on the level of competition. The wrestler with the most points at the end of the match wins and Evan says there’s always that moment when you spot a tipping point in the momentum.

“You can see when you opponent starts to get tired and you have them on the ropes so to speak,” Evan says.

In addition to practices and matches during the season, which runs from November to March, high school wrestlers condition all year. Balancing and extracurricular like wrestling with a full academic load also presents challenges. Aston and Evan says that they both try to do homework during the school day, before they head to wrestling practice to make things easier.

High school wrestlers get divided into weight classes to ensure fair competition. It’s a physically demanding sport that requires strength, endurance, and agility, so wrestlers often engage in intense training and conditioning to prepare for matches. There are 14 weight classes in high school wrestling, ranging from 106 pounds to 285 pounds and “making weight” takes lot of work both Evan and Aston say.

“We run two miles at the beginning of every practice for stamina,” Evans says. “Then we stretch and and work on moves.”

“We also lift weights in the off season,” Aston adds. “We build muscle when we’re not competing, so your weight class will often change from season to season.”

Both says that the mental aspect of wrestling is just as important as the physical access.

“It’s all a matter of the mind,” Aston says. “If you can’t mentally do it, it doesn’t matter how strong you are. You can’t think, you’ve just got to be the moment and remembering your moves.”

They both say that wrestling had a positive trickle down effect in their lives.

“I used to be really insecure and wrestling has given me more confidence and drive,” Aston says.

I feel like I’ve found my thing,” Evan adds.

If you’d like to learn more about the Moore County Wrestling program, you can follow them on Facebook by clicking here. If you know someone who is interested in joining the team, you can contact Coach Pearson at 731-694-3069. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently-owned, community newspaper located in Lynchburg, Tennessee the home of The Jack Daniel Distillery. We focus on public service, non-partisan, rural journalism. We cover the Metro Moore County government, local tourism, Moore County schools, high school sports, Motlow State Community College, as well as whiskey industry news and regional and state stories that affect our readers.}