FLORENCE, S.C. — Andrew Cummings will coach West Florence High School’s first wrestling team.
Coaching JV baseball during his four years at West so far, Cummings – who competed in high school wrestling in his native Pennsylvania – is excited about building a program from scratch.
“Wrestling is something I’ve always wanted to coach,” Cummings said. “Bringing a wrestling program here is something we’ve worked on at the school since Greg Johnson became our athletic director. That was one of the first things I discussed with him: Trying to bring wrestling here.
“Florence is one of the few places in this state that doesn’t have high school wrestling,” he added. “We have it at the beach. We have it in Columbia, and we have it in the upstate. They have wrestling teams all around us. It was a sport I did in high school; it was a sport I competed in while growing up. And, it’s a sport I see a lot of benefits in.”
It’s also a sport Cummings did well in while in high school. He said he fell one match short of the state tournament at 215 pounds by losing in the second, sudden-death overtime. He also participated in collegiate club wrestling.
“To be able to start a wrestling program from scratch is special to me,” Cummings said. “I know it’s going to be a huge undertaking, but the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. We’ve gotten a lot of interest.
“I’ve talked to several in the community about wresting, and they too seem very interested in it,” he added. “We’ve gotten a lot of support for this, which is very beneficial. It’s going to be a huge mountain to climb, but I look forward to the challenge of it.”
The first step on that climb is an obvious one.
“That first step is going to be building interest,” Cummings said. “We want to build that interest among the students and engage that interest. There are 14 weight classes, from 106 to 285 pounds, so we want to start there by filling those spots. But again, judging from the level of interest we’ve received so far, that’s not going to be a problem. We’ll have a lot of kids try out.”
Then, it’s building interest that goes beyond the high school.
“The goal is to keep growing interest around our program, from the middle school on down, to build a pipeline, starting with the ages of 7, 8 or 9 years old,” Cummings said. “We want them to finish their careers strong and hopefully wrestle in college.”