BAKERSVILLE — Boasting the number one 1A seed from the Mountain Valley Athletic Conference, the grapplers from East Wilkes High School made the 135-mile journey from Ronda to Mitchell High School to compete in the second round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association dual playoffs on Tuesday night.
The Cardinals (15-19) earned a first-round bye by virtue of their seed and faced the Maroon Devils of Swain County (who defeated Mitchell 51-27 in the opening match) in the second-round contest.
Swain also proved to be too strong for East and handed the Cardinals a 53-27 defeat.
“I don’t think that we wrestled too badly tonight considering what we were missing from our lineup,” said East Wilkes Head Coach Marty Andrews. “If (Daniel) Ferguson, Kekoa Brown and Cody Dowell had been able to compete, the match would have been closer.”
The contest began with the 160-pound bout between East’s Dustin Blackburn and Andrew Chavez of the Maroon Devils. The Cardinal senior easily controlled his opponent and pinned him in 57 seconds.
Swain racked up four straight pinfalls in the 170, 182, 195 and 220-pound weight classes to jump out to 24-6 lead in the match.
In the 285-pound contest, Levi Trivette, substituting for Dowell, stepped up for his team, pinning Swain’s Brenn Jackson in 24 seconds to reduce the Devils’ lead to 24-12.
The Maroon Devils (30-12) deducted a team point following the bout for unsportsmanlike conduct, cutting the lead to 23-12.
Although he fell behind early in the match, East’s Alan Lopez came back strong and pinned Tynighia Lillard at 3:39 to cut Swain’s lead to five points with seven bouts remaining.
A win by forfeit and pinfall in the 113 and the 120-pound classes pushed Swain’s lead to 35-18.
Like Lopez in an earlier match, Kole Lambert of the Cardinals fell behind early but also came back strong. He pinned Jesus Sauza of the Devils in 4:57 to cut the lead to eleven.
“Kole had a tough match,” said Andrews. “But he grinded it out and got us six points.”
A pin and a forfeit in the 132 and the 138-pound classes increased the Maroon Devils’ lead to 47-24 with two bouts remaining.
The 145-pound contest pitted familiar foes against each other once again. Swain’s Lucas Brown defeated Austin Bauguess of the Cardinals in the regional semifinals last season.
Bauguess jumped out to 5-0 first-period lead with a takedown and near fall on Brown. Brown battled back largely in the third period and tied the score with a takedown with 14 seconds remaining in the bout, but Bauguess escaped and scored a 10-9 decision over his advesary.
“I think that this might be the best that Austin has wrestled this year,” said Andrews. “He was a little sluggish later in the match but he did what he had to do to get a tough win.”
The Cardinals will next compete in the NCHSAA Western Regionals at Mount Airy High School on Feb. 14-15.