Building a program
Piedmont wasn't much of a wrestling school in 2010 when Ford became the head coach. The Wildcats had only had one wrestler place in the top-10 at the state tournament, and that wrestler was a state champion the year before Ford got there.
"Overall, Piedmont wrestling hasn't had a whole lot of success," Ford said. "It was really struggling to find its bearing and become a competitive team."
In Ford's first year, the Wildcats took a school-record five wrestlers to the state tournament, and earned two third-place medals. Two of the five wrestlers were freshmen.
In year two, Piedmont again sent five wrestlers to state, and that year had four of them place. The team finished sixth overall at the tournament, another milestone accomplishment for the program. Piedmont had one state champion that year.
The improvement has continued in Ford's third year. Piedmont qualified for its first-ever Dual State tournament by beating Cushing, meaning the team that hosts the Dual State tournament will be watching this season.
It also means Surber and Ford could meet up for one more dual, this one with extremely high stakes.
"We're going to have to knock a few teams off to get to them, but I think it would be a lot of fun to compete against Coach Surber and his crew, if we were fortunate enough to get there," Ford said.
The two coaches' teams met in a dual for the first time last season, with Tuttle coming out on top. Surber said he doesn't think Piedmont will be so easy to beat this time around.
"We beat them pretty handedly," Surber said. "We were pretty solid last year. This year should be a better matchup for sure."