With a league title at stake, the North Wilkes wrestling team built an early lead and then held off a late West Wilkes charge to edge the Blackhawks, 41-32, in Millers Creek on Thursday.
With the win, North (16-6 overall) captured a share of the Foothills 2A Conference regular season title with a 5-1 mark, the program’s first grappling crown since 1998-99. The Vikings also grabbed the top seed in Saturday’s FH2A tournament and 2A state playoffs with the head-to-head win over the Blackhawks.
“Our guys have worked their tails off for the last few years building up to (Thursday), and it was well deserved by a great group of kids,” said North’s coach, Jason Bowlin. “I couldn’t be prouder of this team.”
With the match on the line, North got a second-period pin from Simitrio Hernandez over Cruz Limon at 126 pounds in the final matchup to clinch the victory.
“What a battle from some great wresters at West Wilkes,” said Bowlin. “We wrestled pretty good all the way through. West surprised us in a couple spots with wins that we weren’t expecting but we were able to get it done.”
Bowlin noted that, at 138 pounds, Ben South “wrestled brilliantly against a very tough Jett McNeill and was able to secure an (11-5) decision, and freshman Ethan Goins’ win (via 12-8 decision over Joshua Orellana at 113 pounds) was huge for us.”
Other Viking pins by Chase Eller (132, over Mason Overton), Alex Ball (145, over Taner Estes), Mason Dancy (182, over Chase Huffman), Slevin Urick (195, over Benjamin Crawford) and Blaine Shell (285, over Konnor Adams) “made all the difference,” according to Bowlin.
“It was a complete team effort from my amazing coaching staff—David Underwood, Kehly Roberts, Isaiah Myers, Houston Faw and Tim Hutchens—our awesome athletic director, Logan Call, our trainer Britteny Weisensel, and all the parents and our die-hard supporters,” added Bowlin. “They all had a vital role in this championship.”
West (17-8 overall) also finished 5-1 in league action and secured a share of the league title, the school’s first in the FH2A since winning three in a row in the old Mountain Valley 1A/2A, the last coming in the 2019-20 season.
“It was a great match and I would love to see my entire healthy team versus North,” said West’s coach, Earl Roland. “We were missing three starters and our best wrestler (Carter Minton) was 50% just coming off of flu-like symptoms and out all week.
“The guys we had in the lineup fought hard and I am extremely proud of them. We told our wrestlers that it wasn’t the result we wanted but there are bigger prizes out there and more goals to be achieved.”
Surry Central—the only FH2A team to beat North this season—won the conference title last year, the first under the realigned FH2A. The Golden Eagles’ string of four straight league titles overall ended this season.
In other action Thursday, North dropped Forbush, 57-22, getting wins in contested classes from Phillip Dancy (120, dec.), Hernandez (1st fall), Eller (1st fall), South (1st fall), Ball (1st fall), Chandler Johnson (152, 1st fall), Mason Dancy (1st fall) and Tegan Funes Morales (220, 1st fall).
West also defeated Forbush on Thursday, 63-18, getting nonforfeit wins from Limon (fall), Minton (fall), McNeill (fall), Zack Sheets (tech. fall), Estes (fall), West (fall), Seth Huffman (maj. dec.), Crawford (fall) and Adams (fall).
West goes 2-3
West went 2-3 Saturday in the Montgomery Central Duals in Troy.
In a 45-36 decision over Lexington, Blackhawk victors in contested matches were Jett McNeill (138, 1st fall), Taner Estes (152, 1st fall), Nathan Shoemaker (120, dec.) and Jacob Bray (126, 1st fall).
West winners by fall in a 54-28 win over Randleman were Cruz Limon (126), McNeill, Ethan West (152), Chris West (160), Seth Huffman (170) and Benjamin Crawford (182).
In a 52-30 loss to Oak Grove, Blackhawk victors by fall were Estes (145), Crawford, Aly Taylor (106), Limon (132) and McNeill.
West winners via pin in a 52-18 loss to the hosts were McNeill, Chris West and Konnor Adams (285).
In a 45-33 loss to Providence Grove, West victors in contested matches were Limon (fall), McNeill (fall), Seth Huffman (dec.) and Chase Huffman (fall).
West’s record stood at 19-11 after the tournament.
East splits bouts
East Wilkes finished 3-2 in the Northwest 1A Conference standings after splitting a pair of league matches Friday in Ronda.
The Cardinals (21-8 overall) defeated Elkin, 39-36, but dropping a 43-36 decision to Mount Airy, which can complete a clean league slate with a home win today (Wednesday) against Alleghany. A Mount Airy win would also wrap up a second-place league tie (with Starmount) for the Cardinals.
The Bears are defending league champion. North Stokes did not field a team this winter.
Against Elkin, East got wins in contested divisions from Collin White (126, fall), Wesley Willey (145, fall), Raul Lopez (182, fall) and Jonathan Hanlin (220, dec.).
Versus Mount Airy, East victors by pin were Alan Lopez (113), Robert Craft (120), R. Lopez, Tristan Alkire (195), Peyton Mahan (285) and Jordan Sweet (106).
Central drops pair
Wilkes Central dropped a pair of nonleague matches in West Jefferson on Friday.
The Eagles (8-18), in a 61-18 loss to the hosts, got wins via pin from Samuel Sandoval (132), Javien Chatham (182) and Jonathan Quintanilla (285).
In a 52-30 setback to Freedom, Eagle winners by fall were Sandoval (126), Connor Ridgell (152), Marvin Arauz (160), Elijah Hendren (170) and Ray-Kwan Hayes (195).
Rams clips Cards
Starmount edged East Wilkes in Boonville on Thursday, 40-36.
The Cardinals (20-7) got wins from Robert Craft (120, fall), Collin White (126, fall), Jake Borders (132, fall), Bryson Shumate (170, fall), Tristan Alkire (182, fall), Raul Lopez (195, 3-1 tiebreaker) and Grayson Sebastian (220, dec.).
North goes 2-0
North Wilkes (14-6 overall) swept two Foothills 2A opponents—East Surry and North Surry—in Hays on Jan. 10.
In a 52-20 victory over the Cardinals, the Vikings got wins from Hunter Dancy (106, 1st fall), Ethan Goins (113, maj. dec.), Phillip Dancy (120, fall), Simitrio Hernandez (126, tech. fall), Chase Eller (132, dec.), Ben South (138, 1st fall), Alex Ball (145, 1st fall), Chandler Johnson (152, 1st fall), Brayden Scronce (170, 1st fall) and Mason Dancy (195, maj. dec.).
In a 56-24 decision over the Greyhounds, North got wins in contested divisions from Eller (2nd fall), South (tech. fall), Ball (2nd fall), Johnson (dec.), Dakota Faw (160, 1st fall), Scronce (3rd fall) and Slevin Urick (195, 1st fall).
Wilkes Central split a pair of Foothills 2A matches in Moravian Falls on Jan. 10, taking a 60-24 win over Forbush and falling 47-36 to Surry Central.
Against Forbush, the Eagles got wins via fall from Brandon Rosales (126), Samuel Sandoval (132), Brandon Parra (138), Tim Williams (170), Elijah Hendren (182), Joey Jarvis (195) and Ray-Kwan Hayes (220).
Versus Surry Central, Eagles who won via pin were Connor Ridgell (152), Jarvis, Hayes and Jonathan Quintanilla (285).
The Eagles’ overall mark stood at 8-16 after the bouts.