In high-school wrestling, though, it’s all about what a team does when the area and state tournaments roll around.
Mitchem, who is in his first season as the head coach after serving as an assistant last season, is hoping his wrestlers will be a their best for the most important time of the year.
“Our big thing is how we finish,” Mitchem said. “We’d love to start off great, but the new guys are getting used to how I practice, how rough I am, my demands. It takes a little while to build a team.”
A year ago, Troup finished with a flourish.
With seniors Tim Hart, Peyton Evans and Kyle Nixon leading the way, Troup finished 11th in the state meet.
Hart finished second at the state meet, and Nixon was fourth.
Now it’s time for a new crop of wrestlers to take over, and leading the way among the returnees is Michael Mackfield, who excelled as a first-time wrestler last season.
Mackfield won two matches in the state finals and came within one victory of placing.
“He’s just a raw talent,” Mitchem said. “He works his butt off. He still hangs around Tim, Peyton Evans, Kyle Nixon, guys who have placed (at state), guys who have made some big moves for us. He’s getting good training.”
Another wrestler who Mitchem believes has a bright future is sophomore Mitch Mathes, who is wrestling for the first time.
“Mitch is going to be an animal,” Mitchem said. “He has a tremendous upside. I could truthfully see him doing what Mackfield did last year.”
Other key returnees include Cameron Cato, Logan Ragan, Adam Love, Jonathan Scott, Tanius Harris and Otis Thornton.
Another wrestler, Preston Channell, has transferred to Troup from Cass High.
“These guys are young. They’re sophomores and juniors, but they wrestled a couple of years, just hoping that we talked about the progression will put them over the top,” Mitchem said.
Mitchem added that “we do have realistic expectations. We know we’re going to start off slow and work our way better. That’s just the nature of trying to get a program back to where it used to be with the state championships and everything. That just doesn’t happen overnight