Wednesday, June 7, 2023

What Fuels the Tank? Overwhelming Support

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The UNCP wrestling program welcomed a new student transfer to the team this year, sophomore Darian “Tank” Edwards.

Tank transferred in from Ferrum College this school year, and while he didn’t have to change school colors, as his former institution donned black and gold as well, Tank did exchange his Panther claws for Brave talons.

During his one-year stint at Ferrum, he compiled a 7-6 record at the weight class, three of his victories came via pin in his freshman season. The Fayetteville native attended Westover High School. During his senior year, he posted an impressive 28-5 record on his way to a second straight conference title and qualified for the state tournament.

Tank also was awarded most outstanding wrestler and lettered in football during his time as a Wolverine. Tank’s mother was the one who gave him the nickname, after realizing that her original choice of “Taz,” in reference to the Tasmanian Devil looney toons character, didn’t quite sound right.

Also, the nickname Tank stuck better since friends and family would jest about the size of his head relative to his body, saying it was as big as a tank. Tank did not start wrestling until he was in the eighth grade, and he fell in love with the sport after winning his first match.

He was so exhilarated by the victory and filled with jubilation that he was penalized for excessive celebration for screaming and jumping around uncontrollably following his triumph. Despite receiving the technical foul, he continued to celebrate while walking off the mat as he knew a spark had been ignited within in for a new-found love.

Even though wrestling was not his first love because he grew up loving and playing football, once Tank began getting better at wrestling it took priority as the top sport in his life.

“Wrestling pretty much made me who I am today, everything in my character came from wrestling,” Tank said. Tank credits his mother as his source of motivation to not only continue to play the sport, but also as his muse when he’s on the mat trying to defeat and dominate his opponents.

“She’s my number one fan. She’s been to every home match even if I haven’t wrestled, she’s always been there,” Tank said. “That’s my number on supporter, I wrestle for my mama.”

Edwards believes that wrestling at the 165lbs weight class is his optimal division because it better suits his style of wrestling and he’s lighter on his feet. However, he wasn’t able to wrestle at that weight in his first year as a Brave because of his detrimental dietary habits, but he vows to get back to peak wrestling weight next season.

Although he only saw action in just one dual meet this season against St. Cloud State University in the Newberry Duals, the highlight of his first season dawning the Black and Gold came during the Citrus Invitational in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Dec. 29 and 30. After initially not making weight upon arrival, Tank went on a dominant rampage through the brackets of the two-day tournament, which resulted in him finishing with an unblemished record and a standing atop the podium.

Tank’s toughest match of the entire tournament was not his bout for first place, but actually his first match on day one of the preliminaries. He said he always uses the first match as a warm up and he feels out his opponent and sets the tone for himself moving forward.

“After that whole situation when I had missed weight, the first person I called was my mama and she gave me some words. She told me to just fight it out, do your best and don’t let nobody score on you and I listened to her,” Tank said.

“It was bittersweet because I knew I should’ve did it at the right weight class I should’ve been at but doing it at a bigger weight class is something I am very proud of. However, I did miss weight, so I shouldn’t be to happy about it,” Tank said about how he felt following his showing in the sunshine state.

Coming into this season, Tank’s personal goals were to finish the year with a positive record, encourage his teammates when they were on the mat and contribute to the team winning a championship, which came to fruition as the Braves finished the year atop the Eastern College Athletic Conference.

Even when he’s not slated to wrestle in a meet, Tank is always helping one of his teammates warm up and get loose, as well as being the loudest person cheering on his fellow wrestlers in the entire gymnasium. “That’s just my character, I’m always hype every time, you will not catch me not hype,” Tank said. “So, match time when I see one of my teammates wrestling and the other guy does an illegal move too aggressive, I’ll be the first person to stand up for my teammates.”

Tank shares a sentiment that is very common among the majority of student athletes that attend the university, which is a great appreciation of the hospitable and supportive environment that exist in the community as well as the student body.

“You can meet friends everywhere, there’s a lot of loving people in Pembroke and at UNCP and I have adapted well to the campus,” Tank said. Even though he did not see any action on the mat against King, when the Braves wrapped up their regular season as conference champions in dominating fashion, his presence was still felt immensely by his teammates.

“When we were at King I was our whole fan base. It was me versus 200 other people and my teammates heard me over all of the other 200 people, so me being that supportive I feel like I did contribute a lot to the team,” Tank said. “Even if I didn’t wrestle in dual matches, I still supported my team and my teammates always tell me that they hear me so whenever they can hear me and hear the support that fuels them up so as long as they’re fueled up I’m fine.”

#feature #sports #tank #uncp #college #student #AroundCampus #wrestling

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UNCP student newspaper since 1947.
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