Darton’s Davion Caston, the 133-pound Eastern District II champion, is one of eight Cavs wrestlers participating in this weekend’s NJCAA national tournament. (David Mann/Darton State College)
ALBANY — As the Cavs work through their final preparations for this weekend’s 2014 NJCAA National Wrestling Championship tournament in Spokane, Wash., Darton State College head wrestling coach James Hicks has repeatedly given his eight qualifiers the same advice.
“Just wrestle,” he says.
The two words have become a mantra for the Cavs, who intend to continue to build on their recent successes of winning Darton’s first Eastern District II wrestling title and Hicks’ honor of becoming Darton’s first District Coach of the Year.
On Friday, the Cavs will have an opportunity to bring on more program firsts — this time on a national stage. The initial two sessions of the national championship begin at 6:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Those who make it through both sessions Friday will become All-Americans and continue to compete through Saturday.
The team goal is to have more All-Americans and the highest team finish in the history of Darton wrestling. Darton’s best team finish is 22nd, and the Cavs have not had more than one All-American out of a national championship tournament.
“I feel good, real good about our chances,” Darton State sophomore and 133-pound Eastern District II champion Davion Caston said. “We got some guys in the room wrestling very well right now.”
All eight of the Cavs are going to have to do just that as Darton continues to earn respect among long-standing wrestling teams. The Cavs are unconcerned with the tournament seeding announced by the NJCAA earlier this week, as it’s really a useless indicator of who they’re facing, Hicks said.
“It’s hard to say how well we are seeded,” he said. “We haven’t seen anybody except those teams in our district.
“But I think that if we wrestle free, with no stress and just do what we do, we’ll be fine.”
Along with Caston, those competing for Darton are Quintini Noel, Zach Wright, Orlando Nwade, Anthony Smith, Matt Carroll, Anthony Saulle and Jesse Rowland.