EXCELLENCE OF EXECUTION: Foard wrestling captures 7th straight regular season league title on Tuesday night

Fred T. Foard senior wrestler Hunter Lloyd embracing coach Zeb Elmore. Head coach Mike Carey (far left) and sophomore wrestler Joel Parrish (far right) are also pictured. (Photo courtesy of Foard wrestling)Tigers’ Hunter Lloyd picked up a win over Hibriten’s Azariah Moore in the 170-pound class on Tuesday night. (Photo courtesy of Foard wrestling)
Marcus Smith
Sports Editor

The Fred T. Foard Tigers' wrestling team has had a season that's sure to be a classic.

It finished up its regular season the way it began as it capped off an impressive run at 42-0 to be on top of the world. On Tuesday, January 28, the Tigers were victorious on the road in Icard after manhandling Hibriten and East Burke.

Foard proved its excellence of execution in a clean sweep of the Panthers, 77-0; while, it only allowed one victory in the win over the Cavaliers, 75-3.

Not only did it keep its undefeated streak alive, but the Tigers have now done something only few programs can dream of in terms of conference action. Foard is the victor of seven-straight Northwestern Foothills 2A season titles – its ninth league title in the past 10 years – following a 7-0 finish in the conference.

In the victory over East Burke, the Tigers only allowed a decision win by Cavs' Trevor Phillips, 11-9, over Dalton Jackson in the 145-pound class. However, Foard collected six falls via seniors Justin Whalen, Hunter Lloyd and Braden Wharton, along with juniors Landon Foor, Jacob Belton and Mo McAfee. It would also obtain the other wins through forfeit from freshman Zane Birtchet, junior Spencer Bechtol, sophomores Ian Willis and William Auton, Dylan Smith and senior David Weaver.

While, Foard junior Jamie Richard (126-pound) picked up the only decision victory, 6-4, over East Burke's Caleb Johnson-White.

In the shutout of the Panthers, Foard obtained 10 falls, a technical fall (Lloyd over Azariah Moore, 15-0) and a major decision (Willis over Hibriten's Ross Watts, 10-0).

Foor, the two-time state champion, secured 120 career wins to close out the regular season. His final victories before the Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference tournament on Saturday came over Hibriten's Deykel Sanders and East Burke's Elijah Hess in the 182-pound class.

“(This season) It's what every coach wants from their team. Commitment, focus, determination. We have been fortunate to have kids buy in the way this group has,” said Fred T. Foard head wrestling coach Mike Carey. “I've had a lot of good memories with this program. This 2020 team is probably the best group of people I have had the pleasure to coach in 20 plus years of coaching. Watching them develop during their time at Fred T. Foard has been great, since six of our starting 14 never even started in middle school.

“I have enjoyed seeing the kids work and get back what they put into their sport. The one year we didn't win the conference title was versus Alexander Central in 2013. They had a good team, but we also had been sick with the flu, and we just weren't good enough that day, though we went on to win a state dual title later that year.”

Carey also said it's been great having his son Brock – who's a freshman – on the team this year even though it can be tough as a dad.

“He has battled so many injuries this year,” he said. “We have sent him out there when he wasn't at his best, but he has never complained. I obviously have always wanted him to have individual success, but just as much, I wanted him to be a part of a team that wants to be champions as a team.

“I always tell him I love him, and that doesn't get affected by whether he wins or loses. Coach Baker at St. Stephens got to experience that last year with his son (win a state dual title), and I hope that we can someday do that with my son.”

Carey said that his team is not satisfied with just being conference champions – regular season or otherwise. He said he's not into setting goals, but that he wants his team to just get better every day and enjoy what they are doing.

“That said, we know what the next few weeks mean and we just want to be healthy, compete to the best of our abilities, and represent ourselves and our school the best we can,” he said. “If we can do that, we can put our heads on our pillows at night and sleep well, no matter whether we win or lose.”

The Tigers will look to three-peat as Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference tournament champions on Saturday at Hibriten High School set for a 9 a.m. start. It will also vie for its 10th conference tournament title since 2011 (counting when it was in the Northwestern 3A/4A Conference).