FERRUM, Va. – Under seven-year coach Nate Yetzer, the Ferrum Panthers have constantly rewrtten the standard on the wrestling mats. The team has one loss on the season but, since then, it has been nearly untouchable.
"These guys are working hard and are so coachable," Yetzer said.
"This is the most coachable group I've ever had. They listen and that's from the freshmen up to the seniors and captains."
The track record of success is impressive. Ferrum has had an NCAA qualifier each year since 2016, including Franklin County native Alveno Matthews. He and fellow senior Blake Rosenbaum are two of three wrestlers that are undefeated.
"When I go out there, I should leave no doubt. I train as hard as I can in here. Those guys train hard, too, but I think I train harder," said Rosenbaum.
"So if I go in there just knowing they shouldn't beat me, then that's my mindset every time."
If Ferrum is able to have any NCAA qualifiers this season, it'll be a bit of a homecoming. The Panthers are set to host the NCAA Division III National Championships at the Berglund Center in Roanoke. It'll be the first time the championship has ever been held in the state of Virginia.
"It's a big deal but, for us, the venue doesn't really matter. For us, it's about going out and wrestling the best that we're capable of doing," Yetzer said.
The Panthers second half of the season is loaded and includes matches with the top schools in Division III at the Citrus Invitational next weekend. Though the road to the nationals is a tough one, these Panthers hope to be the last men standing.
"Everyone wants to be on that top stage. So every year we push harder and harder and every year we put more people in nationals and get more All-Americans so it's just a grind and it's nice," said Rosenbaum.