East Wilkes’ wrestling team celebrated its senior night on Tuesday in Ronda with the recognition of two very talented, and accomplished, wrestlers.
Both Austin Bauguess and Dustin Blackburn, who reached the 100-win plateau earlier this winter, played key roles in helping the Cardinals earn a sweep of both Starmount (45-33) and East Surry (50-27).
The win over the Rams also secured the Mountain Valley Athletic Conference’s top spot on the 1A side for East Wilkes and the automatic bid for the North Carolina High Athletic Association dual playoffs. The first round of the playoffs is scheduled to take place on Tuesday and the Cardinals (15-18, 4-3) earned a first-round bye.
But before Tuesday’s playoff match, the Cardinals will step out of dual action to compete in the MVAC championships, which will take place at East Wilkes on Saturday. The action is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.
“This year’s team has been decimated with injuries but we’ve done well with the wrestlers we’ve had remain,” said East Wilkes Head Coach Marty Andrews. “I hope that our guys can take the conference win and carry it into this weekend.”
Bauguess and Blackburn each won both of their bouts in the tri-match. Against the Rams, Bauguess scored a quick pin over Joshua Drane to give the Cardinals a 24-18 team advantage.
But Sterlin Holbrook scored a 4-3 decision over Chandler Luffman in the 152-pound match — one that Andrews noted was “the most spirited competition between two evenly-matched wrestlers.”
Blackburn made a last-minute comeback against Kendall Dickerson at 160 pounds to earn the pin with 50 seconds left in the bout and increased East’s lead to nine at 30-21.
The Rams got as close as 36-33 with two bouts left after Caden Abernathy’s forfeit win at 195 pounds, but Caleb Combs and Levi Trivette put the match to bed.
Combs, a junior, picked a 4-3 decision over Jeremiah Wagoner at 220 and the freshman Trivette picked up a forfeit victory.
In addition to Bauguess and Blackburn, Kekoa Brown (138 pounds), Charles Collins (182 pounds), Trivette (220 pounds), Combs (285 pounds) and Alan Lopez (106 pounds) picked up wins in contested bouts. All of them were by pinfall except for Blackburn’s victory, which was an 8-3 decision.