The former Wildcat assistant inherited a team that had just 10 wrestlers — two of which were eighth-graders. So not only couldn’t he even fill up a lineup, simply being competitive at the spots he did have guys penciled it at proved to be quite the chore.
Fast-forward to 2012, and most notably, this past Saturday, where not only were the Wildcats — whose numbers are up to 31 grapplers from freshman to senior this year — in the hunt, they were making plenty of noise.
The Cats placed for the first time in program history at the 10th Annual Screamin’ Eagle at Mt. Zion, finishing in third place out of 10 teams behind three individual champions — Josh Ivey at 113 pounds, Tristan Ware (132) and Chris Bailey (152).
In recent years, Seeley simply preached putting Villa Rica wrestling on the map as the primary focus. And now that it’s done that locally, the next step is to make a name for itself in Macon on the state level.
“I tell you what, [Saturday] is a start. Last year, we definitely put it on the map, but this was a statement [Saturday]. I believe that this will let west Georgia know that we are on the map. We can start asking Villa Rica High School to start making us a trophy case, because we’re going to start bringing home some hardware,” Seeley said.
Seeley lauded the work of his two senior, four-year mainstays in the program, Ivey and Daniel Holland, who finished in second at 160 pounds on Saturday.
While they’ve endured the growing pains, the VR duo is beginning to see the fruits of the labor pay off.
“Their leadership in the practice room has been huge for us. They lead by example mainly, and that’s huge for our program. It also makes a statement for us all the way around. I believe they’re going to be very successful for us,” Seeley said.
Seeley has also been encouraged by some of his younger grapplers emerging into bigger and better things, as a total of 10 VR wrestlers placed on Saturday.
Along with the three first-place efforts and Holland’s second-place finish, Michael Hurley (113), Sam Preston (120) and Rafi Blount (138) all came in third, while Austin Bailey (106), Austin Roper (126) and Demetris Flemister (220) finished in fourth.
“We’ve come a long way from where we were in the very beginning. Expectations are high. Not only on ourselves, but also in the community and those type of things. We’re a humble team. And this tournament [Saturday] really opened up some eyes, as far as some kids on our team that they know that they need to maybe do a little bit extra instead of going through the motions and just doing what’s asked of them,” Seeley said.
Because though the Wildcats are headed in the right direction, Seeley doesn’t want this group being content and satisfied with where it’s at. Every rung up that ladder is just the next step for the program — and Seeley is shooting for the top.
“I’m very excited for this year. We’ve got a tough region. But I feel that we can compete in our region. Our goal this year is to get five guys to sectionals and three out to state down in Macon. I think it’s very possible,” Seeley said.