11/19/04 — Falcon Invitational set for Saturday

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Falcon Invitational set for Saturday

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 19, 2004 1:55 PM

PIKEVILLE -- The progression of Wayne County wrestling continues.

The dedication to offseason conditioning, particularly strength and stamina, has helped the area schools gain respect among their peers -- programs that have consistently flourished over the past decade.

That admiration of improvement surfaced Thursday afternoon when the No. 1 seeds were announced for the 2004 Falcon Invitational, which is scheduled for Saturday at Charles B. Aycock. Nine grapplers, either regional and/or state qualifiers, from five county programs earned the top perch in their respective weight classes.

"Wayne County wrestling has come a long way in the last five years," veteran Aycock coach Kevin Smith. "We saw it at the end of last year when we had a large contigency go to the state tournament. Every year, it seems that Wayne County's wrestlers get closer and closer to those higher seeds.

"That has a lot to do with the local coaches and the job they're doing with these young men. Wayne County is doing this without feeder programs and we're still being competitive."

The Golden Falcons received five No. 1 seeds -- Greg Coudriet (125 pounds), Ronald Lynn (135), Randy Meisenhelder (145), Tim Harrison (152) and John Robertson (171). Coudriet is the lone returning champion in the bunch.

Aycock is the two-time defending champion and will compete without 215-pounder Turner Wood and heavyweight Dustin Gurley. Both are playing on the football team, which faces Wilson Hunt tonight in the second round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A (small school) playoffs.

Wood finished runner-up to two-time Falcon Invitational champion Adam Newson at 189 last year. Gurley ended up sixth, falling to Rosewood's Clayton Taylor in the fifth-place match.

"Several teams are much younger this year because of the football playoffs," Smith said. "From a team standpoint, it's going to hurt us. But the coaching staff and I wouldn't dream of taking away the memory of winning a home playoff game just for a couple of points."

Rosewood's Ramsey Brown and transfer Michael Sander are seeded No. 1 at 103 and heavyweight, respectively. Brown was the 103 runner-up in the inaugural Falcon Invitational.

Southern Wayne's Thomas Mosshammer drew the top nod at 130 and Eastern Wayne's David Brown is atop the 189-pound bracket. Teammate Travis Turner is seeded second behind Robertson.

Newson, the No. 1 seed at 215, is vying to become the first-ever three-time champion in Falcon Invitational history. Mike Taylor of D.H. Conley is the top seed at 160. Triton's Lamar Jones and Ronnie Edwards are No. 1 at 112 and 119 pounds, respectively.

"I'm very excited to see that most of the brackets are full or nearly full. I expect a very competitive tournament," Smith said. "The positive side of having so many teams still playing football is that many young wrestlers will wrestle this weekend, who might not otherwise get a chance to compete."

A record 17 teams will bring more than 140 wrestlers to the day-long event which starts approximately at 9 a.m. More than 20 of those wrestlers advanced to either the regional and/or state tournament last season.

Admission is $5.

"Our kids know we're going in short-handed and that every point is important," Smith said. "The young men know if they're not a top-three seed, they have to win big matches. The key to being a good wrestler is learning how to beat higher seeds, and we're asking several young men to do that this weekend.

"That is what it's going to take for us to win the tournament."

And resume not only a school tradition, but a county tradition as well.