FERRUM, Va. - It's only been five years since Ferrum College resurrected its wrestling program and handed the keys to former Virginia Tech assistant Nate Yetzer. Despite still being in its infancy stages, the program has already begun to flourish.
"Early on, we recruited the first couple years, it was about selling a vision, the vision of this program, where we see it. We had nothing really to back it up because we were a new program. Now its kind of easier to sell kids and the development of our athletes and the kind of success they can have here because we've proven it," said Ferrum wrestling head coach Nate Yetzer.
The Panthers 2017 campaign included an NCAA East Regional title and three wrestlers advancing to compete in the NCAA tournament. As Yetzer continues to steer his team in the right direction, he focuses on a list of objectives.
"Our goal still hasn't changed. Our goal is to win the regional title this year and send as many guys as possible to nationals. Our goal is to send five guys. We got three last year and that was kind of a disappointment to be honest with you. Five is the goal and we'll see how it shakes out but I do think we have the ability to do that," he added.
Ferrum won five matches early in the season, upsetting No. 3 ranked Stevens Tech in November. The Panthers climbed their way to a program-high ninth ranking nationally among Division III teams.
"It was a great experience; it all comes from coming together as a team, that's where it starts from. It's a really good feeling being able to come in here knowing that I'm on a top-ranked team as a first semester freshman and be able to work and improve. It's a really good feeling," said Panthers wrestler Tatom Tyree.
Tyree is a freshman out of Amherst County who is one of the three wrestlers from Southwest Virginia. Magna Vista's Tyrique Nolen has racked up many accolades, including first place at the Builders Invitational in 2016. Franklin County product Alveno Matthews was USA South first team all-conference in football and transitions to another leadership role on the mat.
"We're local kids and it's always good to do something that you always wanted to do at the next level in your hometown. So thats the best part of it," Matthews said.
With the horsepower of local talent and the program's dedication to competitiveness, Ferrum wrestling is accelerating into 2018.
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