INDEPENDENCE – Brock Pierce had one goal this wrestling season: don’t get pinned.
And so far, the sophomore from Central High School hasn’t been.
Wrestling at the 160-pound bracket, Pierce has won 31 matches so far this season, with seventeen losses, at the varsity level.
It’s a much different picture than last year.
“I’ve been better this year than last year so far, and that’s good, that’s been a big improvement,” Pierce said. “I seem more calm. Last year, I always wrestled scared, and this year I have confidence, like wrestling how I want, so I think that’s why my season has gone a little bit better than last year.”
With the Mid-Willamette Conference 5A District Tournament just days away, which takes place Feb. 8-9 at Crescent Valley High School in Corvallis, Pierce said he’s feeling nervous the closer it gets.
“Well last year I didn’t make it at all, so that’s my main goal this year is to make it – I want to be on the podium at least. There are a couple tough kids (in conference), so they’ll either stay at 160 or drop to 152, so it’s either going to be easy or really hard.”
Pierce began wrestling in the second grade, but it wasn’t until a few years later that he realized his potential.
“I started (wrestling) in second grade but, I was pretty big back then, so I didn’t move or anything,” he said, chuckling. “So, about fifth grade I started kind of going hard, and then seventh grade I started getting really competitive.”
His competitive nature, and his success on the wrestling mat this year, has established him as a sort of leader for this season’s group of wrestlers, many of whom Pierce said he encouraged to try the sport out.
“Beginning of the season, or before actually the season started, I told all the football players to come out and wrestle,” Pierce said, “and so I’d get the mat room open like a month before, and we’d get an open mat and I’d teach them a little bit.”
Overall, the Panthers wrestling team has struggled to find their groove this season, but for the younger wrestlers, such as Brock, this year has offered them growth and perspective, which Brock said he hopes propels them into next year.
It’s all about learning how to be better, he said.
“Okay, maybe we’re not here this year, but if we can learn this year, than maybe next year we can do even better,” he said.
The district wrestling tournament starts Friday morning at Crescent Valley High School through Saturday.