KING — It was the big guys’ night to shine.
West Stokes hosted its third-annual Lineman Challenge on Thursday. According to Wildcats coach Jimmy Upchurch it allows teams to showcase the offensive and defensive players that have worked hard in the weight room.
“I enjoyed it. It’s a really fun thing because these kids don’t get a lot of recognition. They don’t get touchdowns, and they don’t catch the ball and run with it so this is a glory thing for them. I love it; it’s one of my favorite things to do all summer,” Upchurch said.
Players look forward to the competition as well. According to Upchurch West Stokes juniors Jacob Wagoner and Josh Goad competed in the weight room throughout the school year trying to out-lift one another and their effort paid off. Goad placed first in the tire tug event and Wagoner came in second.
“I’m very proud of these young men. Hard work pays off,” Upchurch said.
Six area schools came out and an estimated 150 athletes participated in four events and a tug of war competition. Players were divided by grade level and first, second, and third place finishers were recognized at the end of the evening.
North Surry sophomore Nick Huff won all four events in pretty impressive fashion, said Greyhound coach Danny Lyons.
“Nick got after it in every event,” said Lyons. He didn’t just come out hoping to perform well, he wanted to dominate his age group, and he did.
One of the events had players flipping over a big tractor tire within a time limit. Huff made 36 tire flips — the most of anyone there regardless of class.
Nick plays defensive line last year, noted Lyons. In his freshman year, the Hounds had some injuries, so Lyons brought Nick up to varsity at midseason. Now the coach is expecting big things from the powerful young man this year.
Huff’s strong showing kept classmate Jarrett DeHart from getting any first-place finishes. DeHart reached the finals in both the tire tug and sumo events, but lost to Huff.
Freshman Alex Gudino came in second in the tire tug. Seeing all these dedicated underclassmen hit the weight room so diligently gets a coach excited about his team’s future, said Lyons, who said he took nine freshmen to the challenge.
Senior Jordan DeHart was a strong participant in the challenge the past two years, but a knee injury cost him his junior season.
It bodes well that Jordan had a strong showing at West Stokes, said the coach. The senior won the farmer’s walk and was third in the tire flip with 31 flips.
In the farmer’s walk, the player must pick up a heavy sack — it was maybe 70 or 80 pounds, Lyons estimated — and rush through the course. Lyons said Jordan did the course in only 12.5 seconds, best of anyone in any grade level.
East Surry had a standout performance from a freshman. Morgan East won the tire tug and the sumo events, then tied for the fastest farmer’s walk with South Stokes’ Jacob Smith.
Upchurch told the players they have opportunities to play football in the summer 7-on-7 contests, but the lineman challenges showcase the offensive and defensive abilities.
“We want to reward these guys for the effort they put in,” Upchurch said.
First Place Finishers
Tire Tug - 9th Grade: East Surry Morgan East, 10th Grade: North Surry Nick Huff, 11th Grade: West Stokes Josh Goad, 12th Grade: West Stokes Dorin Johnson
Sumo - 9th Grade: East Surry Morgan East, 10th Grade: North Surry Nick Huff, 11th Grade: West Stokes Jacob Wagoner , 12th Grade: West Stokes Dorin Johnson
Tractor Tire Flip - 9th Grade: Starmount Brandon Lopez, 10th Grade: North Surry Nick Huff, 11th Grade West Stokes Jacob Wagoner, 12th Grade: West Stokes Jacob Bratcher
Farmer’s Walk - 9th Grade: (tie) South Stokes Jacob Smith and East Surry Morgan East, 10th Grade: North Surry Nick Huff, 11th Grade: South Stokes Cody Collins, 12th Grade: North Surry Jordan DeHart