Ashe County, a wrestling team with nothing to lose and everything to gain, did both in Millers Creek on June 8.
The Huskies upended West Wilkes, the reigning and three-peat champion in the Mountain Valley 1A/2A Athletic Conference, 49-28, to grab the 2021 title.
Ashe finished 7-0 in the MVAC and West ended at 6-1. The Huskies lost by tiebreaker to a league foe, North Wilkes, on April 29 in Bunker Hill, but that season-opening match was considered to be nonconference.
“It was a tough match for sure,” said Kelly Nichols, the Blackhawk coach. “However, you have to tip your cap to Ashe—they wrestled really well and it was a tough matchup for us in the middle and upper weights.”
The Blackhawks started the match with a commanding 24-0 lead after three forfeits and Carter Minton’s pin of Bryson Trivette at 1:16 into their 120-pound matchup.
But the Huskies came roaring back with 49 unanswered points. Ashe first took the lead, at 25-24, after Matthew Peterson’s 14-9 decision over Dylan Ball at 160.
The Huskies then benefited from a forfeit at 170 and put the match away with consecutive pins at 182 (Gabriel Bare over Logan Prevette with 17 seconds left in the opening period), 195 (Kebel Dillard over Jocelyn Paredes in 44 seconds) and 220 (Timothy Peterson over Gary Call in 49 seconds).
West’s Alex Roland closed the match with a 13-3 major decision over Bryant Blevins at 285.
“I thought our team give it their all and left everything on the mat,” continued Nichols, whose club finished with an overall dual-team mark of 7-5. “I could not be any more proud of this group for the way they handled this crazy season with COVID.
“Now it’s time to focus on regionals (on June 15) and see how many we can get qualified for the state tournament.”
North clips East
The North Wilkes and East Wilkes grapplers had little more than pride at stake on June 9 in Ronda.
But inter-county bragging rights was more than enough incentive, as the squads traded blows before the Vikings posted a tight 39-33 win over the Cardinals.
“I thought my guys wrestled very hard,” said North’s coach, Jason Bowlin. “We have a young group with five freshmen starting and we’re getting better and better each day.”
With the match in the balance, North took the last two contested matches to build an insurmountable lead. Trent Dillard pinned Justin Caudill with 46.3 seconds left in the first period of their 160-pound battle and Andrew Cardwell won by a deliberate 11-6 decision over Kyle Thompson at 182.
The three heaviest weight classes were not contested. North led 40-33 at that point but was docked a point for unsportsmanlike conduct after protesting an out-of-bounds stoppage of the clock in the 113-pound match.
After a double forfeit at 106, Alan Lopez managed a last-second reversal to post a 12-11 decision over freshman Simitrio Hernandez at 113. The hardest fought match of the night had several lead swings, with each grappler swapping leads going into the final two minutes.
“That match stuck out in my mind,” said Bowlin. “Simitrio battled and battled the entire match and lost a heartbreaker, going behind in the last few seconds. Both kids wrestled hard.”
After a pair of forfeits that benefitted the Vikings, Zac Helms cut the North lead to 12-9 with a pin of Parker Wells at 132 with 1:24 left in the second period.
Alexander Ball swung the momentum back in North’s favor with a fall over Xane Grant with 38.5 seconds left in the opening period of their 138-pound match.
The Cardinals received a forfeit at 145 and got a quick 31-second pin by Chandlar Luffman over Nicholas Szekely in their 152-pound contest. East at that point led for the final time in the match, 21-18.
Also on June 9 in Ronda, the Vikings took a 36-27 non-league win over North Davidson.
Down 21-3 to the Black Knight, the Vikings responded with five straight wins, which included a 9-2 decision by Alexander Ball at 145 and a first-period pin by Cardwell at 182.
North Wilkes’ Calvin Transeau gained a first-period pin at 285 to complete the scoring. Benjamin South of the Vikings was also a winner, by 11-8 decision at 120.
Also on June 9 in Ronda, the Cardinals posted a slim 39-36 victory over the Black Knight.
East’s winners in contested matches were Helms by fall at 132, Thompson by pin at 182 and Jonathan Hanlin by 10-8 decision at 195.
After the matches, North’s dual-team record concluded at 5-7 overall and 3-4 in the MVAC. East’s mark finished at 8-14 and 2-5.
Elkin forfeits to Central
Wilkes Central posted a 48-30 win over Elkin in Moravian Falls on June 8.
The match consisted entirely of forfeits. The Eagles finished the dual-team season at 6-8 overall and 4-3 in the MVAC.