With the high school wrestling season coming to a head in the next couple of weeks, a few localrestlers are making a good showing of their efforts, not only individually, but from the team aspect as well. For the Exeter High School squad, the team itself finished fifth at the districts, with wrestlers Ethan Stever, Tristan Watts and Brett Kulp qualifying for the state championship. A sophomore, Kulp won gold at the district championship in Hershey last week. In his first match, Kulp pinned Chase Mowery of South Western in 1:31. In the quarterfinals, he won a 5-4 decision over Devin Schnupp of Warwick. In the semifinals, the sophomore won a 3-2 decision over Zurich Storm of New Oxford, and in the championship bout, defeated Connor Sheehan of Solanco, 1-0.
“As a team, we have three wrestlers going to states,” said Klup. “It’s nice that we have guys coming in and working hard with us, even though they’re not going. The other guys are getting into gear for next season, and overall, I think as a unit, we’re doing pretty well.” The sophomore said some goals for the team this season included getting to districts, and Exeter got there pretty easily, according to Kulp.
“Exeter as a team has never won a district match before, and we won two this year, and we qualified for states, which was some other good news,” said Kulp.
“Some of my personal goals were to get to states and to place, and that is still a work in progress.” The sophomore also noted that he and his teammates are well prepared for states.
“Our coaches are pushing us pretty hard in the way we condition and in our technique. We’re working on getting our drills perfect, and we’re working each other through the paces.” In regionals last season, Kulp went 2-2. He said getting knocked out last season left a bad taste in his mouth. This season, he was a bit heftier than his freshman year, and it made the difference.
Of his district gold performance, Kulp was pleased to have achieved his goal. It wasn’t easy. He won his last three bouts by one point.
“I kept my smarts about me to win those matches,” he said. “I’m proud of both my individual, and the team’s effort as a whole. I think the most wrestlers we’ve had go to the state tournament is three, and we matched that number this year.” Kulp is the first district champion for the school since 2004, something his is very proud to have accomplished. The team as a whole finished fifth at the district tournament, and Kulp commented that the unit performed pretty well. “In placing where we did, we beat all the other Berks County teams, like Wilson, who we lost to many times this year, and Governor Mifflin as well,” said Kulp. “We had big efforts from all the guys. It ended with a positive result.” If he were to medal at states, Kulp said it would be another notch in his belt.
“That’s always been a goal of mine,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to at least get to states, and placing is the next step. You can’t just be content where you are. You need to step it up. Quitting definitely isn’t an option.”
Winning at an individual level at states would mean a little more to Kulp because he would know he earned that on his own. However, a team medal would be right up there.
As a sophomore, Kulp will still have an impact on this team for a good while. However, going into next season, he noted that the squad will be losing some key seniors. He noted though, that the freshmen on the team are starting to come into their own, and the team should have a shot to do some impressive things next year and down the road as well. “I think we should be one of the best squads in the county, if not the best, because we have a lot of returning wrestlers,” said Kulp. “We’re only losing a handful of seniors and most of our big guns are here, so I think we’ll be champing at the bit going forward to show what we can do.”