High school wrestling season is almost here

Dragons are looking to build on last year’s success

Channing McDonald will soon begin his second season at the helm of the Clinton High School wrestling program.

He’s looking for the Dragons to be competitive on the mats in 2022-23, but he’s also looking toward the future.

“This is my second season and we’re looking to build a program and we’re looking to build a family,” McDonald said. “We’re trying to build a farm system and a youth program and then they can come in here and wrestle.

“We’re building a culture. Our high school practices are from 4-6 and then we have our littles come in and wrestle from 6:30-8 and we have some of our high school guys helping out with the littles.”

The Dragons compete in District 4-A against the likes of Halls, Knoxville Central and Fulton. They are also in Region 2, which features Gibbs, another powerhouse program in Knox County, coached by former Halls assistant Tim Pittman.

“Halls will be our toughest competition in the district, and Halls and Gibbs will be the toughest competition in the region,” McDonald said.

The coach said he aspires to have his program at the level of the Red Devils and the Eagles.

McDonald also noted that he’s looking to field a full lineup in dual meets this season.

“I’m looking for a 106-pound wrestler and I’m working on that,” he said.

Expectations are lofty for the Dragons this season. Clinton would’ve had 11 state qualifiers last season but the TSSAA changed the postseason format at it added a state sectional round.

“We would’ve sent 11 kids to state if they hadn’t added a sectional round,” McDonald said. “I’m looking to send seven or eight kids to state this year and I think (as a team) we can compete with Halls and Gibbs.”

As it was last season, the Dragons had a state medalist, a state qualifier and a region champion.

Key athletes for the Dragons, according to McDonald, include: Lucas Kendall (a senior who competes in the 170-pound weight class and took fifth place at state last season); Dalton Kendall (a sophomore 195-pounder who was a state qualifier last year); Region champion Tailen Scott returns for his senior season. He’s a defending Region 2-A champ. He’ll compete in the 160-pound division.

Junior Riley Silk (152 pounds) was Clinton’s most improved wrestler last season. Riley Webb returns at 220 this season and Parker Sanchez is back at 132.

The Dragons open their 2022-23 campaign on Nov. 22 at Carter High School is Strawberry Plains.