A few days after learning he had made the final 20-man roster for the USA Baseball 18U national team, Cole Wilcox found himself on a bus headed to Canada.
The Heritage High School senior pitcher and his teammates will represent the United States in the WBSC Baseball World Cup beginning Friday in Thunder Bay, Ontario, which is about six hours northeast of Minneapolis. Team USA, attempting to win its third consecutive title in the event, will open against the Netherlands at 2 p.m.
"It was incredible when I learned I had made the team," Wilcox said. "Just knowing that all the work has paid off and reaching this stage is unbelievable. This means everything to me, being able to represent the greatest country in the world by playing the greatest sport in the world is more than a dream."
Wilcox turned heads in his second outing during the recent team trials in Minneapolis. After giving up four runs and five hits in his first appearance, the 6-foot-5 right-hander went three innings and allowed one hit and no runs while striking out three. Two days later, he learned he had made the final cut.
"The difference was I just settled down and realized I belonged," he said. "I had to remind myself that I had the stuff to go out and not just do well, but that I could dominate."
Wilcox continued his strong pitching Tuesday in the team's final exhibition game before heading north of the border. In an 8-2 win over Madison College, he pitched four scoreless innings in relief, allowing two hits and striking out five.
He isn't sure if he will be a starter or reliever in the Baseball World Cup, which is sanctioned by the World Baseball Softball Coalition.
City Prep Tournament
Wednesday, Sept. 6
At Bear Trace at Harrison Bay
Legend: Baylor (B); Boyd-Buchanan (BB); Bradley Central (BC); Cleveland (C); Collegedale Academy (CA); East Hamilton (EH); GPS; Hixson (H); McCallie (M); McMinn Central (McMCen); McMinn County (MC); Sale Creek (SC); Signal Mountain (SM); Silverdale Baptist Academy (SBA); Soddy-Daisy (SD); Walker Valley (WV).
Boys’ tee times: 9 a.m.—John Houk (McMCen), Jesse Felker (M) Sam Marshall (B); 9:10—Nicholas Thompson (MC), Jack Billups (M), Hayden Hunneke (B); 9:20—Gage Brakebill (BC), Drew Linkous (C), Jake Allstun (M); 9:30—Foster Wood (SM), Parker Gray (WV), Griffin McCloy (M); 9:40—Riley Covington (BB), Joe Reilly (B), Miller Wick (EH); 9:50—Matt Tanruddi (B), Benjamin Burns (SM), Seth Ward (McMCen); 10—Sheldon McKnight (B), Cade Puryear (WV), Jake Levine (M); 10:10—Nick McCracken (WV), J. T. McKenzie (BC), Hayes Wood (BB); 10:20—Dalton Sutton (WV), Casey Tull (CA), Matthew Ott (EH); 10:30—Ben Seay (SM), Tyler Ferguson (BC), Trent Cooper (BB); 10:40—Alex Kyle (BC), Dodj Watson (MC), Zac King (SD); 10:50—Wesley Portera (SM), Cameron Baubach (BB), Nathan Fisk (SBA); 11—Carter Kelly (SM), Lucas Maynard (BC), Madden Baldwin (CA); 11:10—Zane Penney (SD), Elijah Kirk (SBA), Bowman Blocker (BB); 11:20—Morgan Baldwin (CA), Drew Rogers (SBA), Gavin Hamrick (SD); 11:30—Colton Lang (CA), Grant Rice (SBA), Luke Ellis (SD); 11:40—David Dansby (WV), Ryan Van Zyl (CA), Jared Thomas (H); 11:50—Brett Billendorf (SD), Logan Taylor (SBA), Bruce Wilson (H).
Girls’ tee times: 12:10—Rheagan Hall (C), Hannah Holland (SC), Taylor Gardner (SM); 12:20—Kyndall Shamblin (B), Zacori Hill (BB), Jessica Kirklen (SD); 12:30—Lindsey Hollis (SM), Lydia Campbell (BB), McKenzie Frizzell (GPS); 12:40—Hannah Prescott (GPS), Whitney Kincaid (WV), Kelsey Hodge (B); 12:50—Ashley Holland (SC), Madeline McNeal (SD), McCall Price (SBA); 1—Preslee Yoder (B), Lauryn Robyn (WV), Ellie Mills (C); 1:10—Emma Rice (SBA), Laila Pourfarzib (SD), April Weaver (SM); 1:20—Gracie Medley (WV), Gracie Spence (GPS); 1:30—Mackenzie Savage (BB), Emma Crouch (C).
Brothers team up
For the first time since 2003, the Mansueto brothers are on the same team — and Notre Dame stands to be a major beneficiary.
Coach Rocco Mansueto has hired his twin Phil to help with the Fighting Irish wrestling program.
The two were competitors growing up, then teammates through their high school and college years.
"We were very competitive," Rocco recalled. "We were wrestling before we knew what wrestling was. I remember fists being thrown in the middle of the night."
They were one-two, the first on the mat at their high school in Middletown, N.Y. — before the national association encouraged rotating starting weight classes — and then again for Cleveland State once they reached college.
"We're still competitive and we still roll around, but we don't go live with each other anymore. We're too weathered," Rocco said.
Rocco, Heath Eslinger's first assistant when he took over at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, already has endured a hip replacement and Phil now has a pacemaker.
Phil's initial duties for Notre Dame will be running the Irish Wrestling Club, along with Guy Harris. That starts up in November.
"Guy has been on staff for two years with IWC and he has done a superb job, but it's hard to pass up bringing in Phil to work alongside him," Rocco said. "At the end of the day, the ultimate goal is to surround our athletes with very good people. Phil will also play a role in our high school program, but the wrestling club will be his priority."
Phil — a three-time NCAA qualifier who twice made it to the championship tournament's round of 12 — had been coaching at Signal Mountain as a high school team assistant and middle school head coach.
He moved this year to Red Bank Middle but has no coaching responsibilities there, freeing him up to rejoin his brother.
"I'm looking forward to it. Just the opportunity of working with my twin brother is something I looked forward to, plus I get to whip up on him again," Phil said. "We have never coached together, and up until recently we had never coached against each other."
Both figure they'll make a good team.
"We have different philosophies — coach differently," Phil said. "I believe we have the backbone of working hard, but Rocco is such a skills-based guy and I'm more on letting the horses run and situation wrestling."
Added Rocco: "He's great at building relationships."
To which his brother later responded with a laugh, "If I have to return the compliment, Rocco's an administrator and he does such a great job of running a program from fundraising to building a team."
New Dade coach
Aaron Simmons will lead the Dade County baseball team this spring, school athletic director Bradley Warren said.
Simmons is a graduate of Tennessee's Sequatchie County High School and coached the Indians from 2009 to '14, winning two regular-season district titles and earning district coach of the year honors twice. Simmons also played at Chattanooga State and Lee University, where he was a two-time team captain.
City Prep next week
The City Prep golf tournament is next Wednesday at The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay. Play starts with the first boys' threesome scheduled at 9 a.m.
Baylor won the boys' competition last season by shooting a 298, and GPS won the girls' team title with a 162. The Bruisers' score came on McKenzie Frizzell's 80 and Hannah Prescott's 82. Both are in the field again this year, along with teammate Gracie Spence.
McCallie's Joe Carter and Walker Valley's Parker Gray tied for first among the boys last year at 72 before Carter, an eighth-grader at the time, became medalist on the second playoff hole. Gray, a senior, is in the tournament again, but a sore back will keep Carter from attempting a repeat.
Cleveland's Rheagan Hall was the other 2016 individual winner with a 78. She's slotted in Wednesday's first girls' group.