Bermudian vs. Boiling Springs wrestling: Is this the Eagles' year?
Like most wrestlers, Ashton West puts a lot of focus toward his personal goals.
The Bermudian Springs 152-pounder enters each season looking to go as far as he can at the individual District 3 and PIAA tournaments. But West has team goals too, and there's one that's arguably at the top.
Beating Boiling Springs in a dual meet.
Bermudian Springs and Boiling Springs compete every year and are both nearly always ranked near the top of District 3. But the Eagles haven't beaten the Bubblers during West's tenure. He and his senior teammates will get another chance on Saturday, when the two teams face off at Bermudian at 7 p.m.
“It would mean everything (to beat them),” Ashton West said. “I want to beat them so bad, I’m tired of losing to them. We lose close to them every time, and that’s the way it’s been throughout my high school career. I’ve never been a part of a team that beat Boiling Springs, and this year I definitely think we have a chance."
The Eagles' struggles with the Bubblers predate this crop of seniors. Since beating Boiling Springs by four points in the 2010-11 regular season, Bermudian has lost to the team in 10 straight matches, including five times in the District 3 team tournament. Three of those losses have come by one point.
But as West said, the Eagles have a chance this season. Bermudian (18-1) will enter Saturday's dual meet ranked No. 1 in Class 2A and fresh off a huge win against Big Spring last Saturday. Boiling Springs is ranked fifth in 2A and lost to Big Spring by 11 points last Thursday.
Despite his team's apparent advantage over its longtime rival, Bermudian Springs coach Dave McCollum hesitated to say the Eagles are the favorite. The Bubblers have had a few starters out of their lineup this season but just got 2016 state qualifier Ricky Ott (285) back while Clarion commit Jalen Hankerson (120) is expected to make his season debut. Boiling Springs also has six healthy wrestlers ranked in the top 10 in Class 2A.
"We’re going to try our darnedest to win, but it's hard to compete with what they do," McCollum said. "Every year it’s a big one and they’ve had our number lately. We know who we are and what we need to do."
Still, Bermudian has eight wrestlers ranked in the top 12 in 2A and seems to have a lineup that matches up fairly well with Boiling Springs. Both teams have ranked wrestlers at 106, 126, 152 and 195 pounds, although it isn't known which matchups will take place.
A win on Saturday won't just be a big moment for the Bermudian program, it would also likely lock up the top seed in Class 2A for the Eagles and guarantee them home matches in the first two rounds of the team tournament. Having lost to Boiling Springs on the road in the semifinals last season, the Eagles know how important being at home could be.
“It’s huge because you get to host at home, plus you’re sitting in a better spot with the matchups," McCollum said. "We’re going to come and fight and give them what we got and see if we can come out on top this time.”