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Morrell feeling good about EHS wrestling

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR SPORTS EDITOR
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com
In a year of uncertainty when it comes to sports, Elizabethton High School wrestling coach Eddie Morrell is plowing ahead with his team that is starting to really take shape and raising some eyebrows on the high school wrestling circuit.

Morrell feels like what his team may lack in size will be more than accommodated for when it comes to their physical strength.

“We are going to be small, but we are going to be strong,” Morrell said during the school’s winter sports media day. “In the preseason, we were picked 11th in A/AA after the loss of a pretty strong senior class.

“What they don’t see is where we are filling holes.”

Part of that hole filling comes from newcomers and most of that comes from the returning wrestlers who have already had several matches under the belts including at the state tournament level.

“We have Trenton Taylor coming over from football, a heavyweight that I am really excited about that prospect,” Morrell added. “Bryson Davis has put on a whole lot of weight in the right way in the weight room and I am really excited about having him at about 182 to 195.

“Payton Freeman was a state qualifier at 126 and should be again. Tyesha Thomas has been a perennial state placer so we are more than glad to have her back. I think that we are going to surprise some folks – we are sure going to try to.”

Of course one of the most notable of the 2020-2021 Cyclone wrestling team is senior Deuce Morton who is coming off his second consecutive TSSAA state title.

If Morton or Morrell has anything to say about it, the pair will be working toward earning the hat trick by securing another title to cap off a stellar career for the Cyclones.

“I told another media outlet last year that Deuce can do about anything that he wants and I think that on the football field, especially this year, he has proven that,” Morrell commented.

“Deuce can go as far as Deuce chooses. A third state championship for me is just the icing on the cake for him. He has worked hard and earned it. He deserves it and we won’t stop until that happens.”

Morrell went on to add that a lot of the season will be spent on filling holes as needed at different weight levels. It shouldn’t be a problem to make the adjustments in response to what the opposition throws at them.

“We are going to have problems at about 113 pounds and at 138 pounds,” the coach said. “We may have to juggle some kids around depending on what the other team has in its lineup.

“We are just going to fill holes where it makes sense to fill them. If there is a tactical advantage to moving someone into that slot then we will but if not we are just going to wrestle straight up.

“We got back one of our middle school wrestlers in Ira Osbourne when he moved back to the area. He comes to us with four or five years at 106 pounds which is traditionally a tough weight class to fill. We are looking for big things out of him.”

Morrell is also excited about the addition of a new assistant coach who he is very, very familiar with in his daughter – Jordan Morrell.

“My assistant coach is my daughter, Jordan. She was a two-time state champion in TSSAA. She was ranked for five years nationally through USA Wrestling and won the Southeast Region a couple of years,” added Morrell.

“She wrestled at King University. So, having Jordan here really helps with our technical ability,” continued Morrell. “I hate to admit but I am getting old and it’s hard to go from day to day especially with these kids.

“I stay sore and having Jordan’s youth and enthusiasm here especially as a role model for the women’s side is just a blessing.”

While Morrell is excited about what is transpiring at the high school level, he is even more thrilled at what is taking shape at the T.A. Dugger Middle School level.

Every sport counts on a good feeder program and with the addition of a new coach at the middle school, Morrell sees a brighter future ahead for the Cyclone wrestling program.

“I am really excited about our middle school program. When Coach (Travis) Pennell had his baby there was some concern whether he would continue to coach,” Morrell stated.

“Because of the shorter season, Coach Pennell opted for the middle school this year and what that does is give us a great technical coach at the middle school level that will get kids early and by the time they hit their freshman year, they will be ready.

“I couldn’t be happier about it,” Morrell continued. “And his assistant is Jason Clevinger from here at the high school. Coach Clevinger wrestled a little while when he was in school at Grundy High School and his son also wrestles.

“Coach Clevinger comes to us a blank slate just ready and excited to learn. I am really excited about that middle school group.”

And while the COVID pandemic may play a small part in the team’s new season, Morrell said that the Cyclone wrestling program is approaching the 2020-2021 season like a runaway locomotive.

“Until they tell us we can’t wrestle anymore, we are going to go until the last minute.”