11/22/04 — Rivals loosen Aycock's grip on title, but Golden Falcons survive ... barely

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Rivals loosen Aycock's grip on title, but Golden Falcons survive ... barely

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 22, 2004 2:01 PM

PIKEVILLE -- The Charles B. Aycock wrestling team refuses to completely release its talons from the Falcon Invitational tournament plaque. But a couple of county rivals at least loosened the Golden Falcons' grip Saturday evening.

Eight Aycock grapplers advanced to the championship round of the day-long marathon, but only three secured a gold medal. Wrestlers from Eastern Wayne and Southern Wayne knocked off Aycock in several head-to-head battles at some weight classes, which turned a possible runaway to a third consecutive team title into a tightly-contested battle.

The Golden Falcons lost their final four matches in the championship finals, but held on to collect 211.5 points -- a mere seven points better than Southern Wayne. The Saints' Jonathan McKinney and Thomas Mosshammer each claimed gold, while four teammates tied for third.

Aycock coach Kevin Smith described his team's "three-peat" as a collective effort from unlikely, unsung heroes -- particularly Will Medus and Jason Steed.

Medus filled the 189-pound spot normally held by Turner Wood and yielded an average of 25 pounds to his opponent. Wood missed the season-opening tournament due to Aycock's football team participating in the playoffs. Meanwhile Steed, in his first varsity action, competed at 160 and marched to the finals before falling to D.H. Conley's Mike Taylor.

"Jason never looked nervous or unsure of himself," Smith said. "He stepped onto the mat and got some very much-needed points for the team."

While that improbable tandem worked through some talented weight classes, the Golden Falcons received their usual performances from returning starters Derek Lancaster (112 pounds), Greg Coudriet (125), Ronald Lynn (135), Randy Meisenhelder (145), Tim Harrison (152) and John Robertson (171).

Coudriet pinned every opponent as he claimed his second invitational title. Lynn and Meisenhelder each earned their first gold medals. Meisenhelder finished third at 145 the past two years.

"Cujo (Coudriet) was flawless all day," Smith said. "His style and intensity best exemplifies the way we want each and every wrestler at C.B. Aycock to wrestle.

"I was pleased with everything he did."

Lancaster, Harrison and Robertson each stumbled in their respective finals matches. Southern Wayne's Jonathan McKinney pinned Lancaster in the third period. Lancaster advanced to the finals with a 7-3 decision against top-seeded Lamar Jones, who tied for seventh at the state meet last season.

Harrison lost a 10-4 decision to two-time champion Daniel Newson of Raleigh Broughton. Robertson suffered a 7-0 shutout against Eastern Wayne's Travis Turner, a first-time winner in the invitational.

"For the last two weeks we have been telling our wrestlers that we could make up for the absence of our football players with strong efforts from our new and lower-seeded wrestlers," Smith said. "We drilled the point home at the end of every practice, telling the kids that to win, we had to have wrestlers beat higher, more-experienced seeds.

"It was clear to the coaching staff and team that a team effort was the only way to make up for some great wrestlers we would be missing."

Aycock's margin of victory was the second-lowest in the invitational's three-year history. Smith's team placed a tournament-record nine wrestlers in the final round and all nine grabbed either a gold or silver medal.

Overall, nine county wrestlers emerged as invitational champions in the 14 contested weight classes.

Mosshammer, a junior, successfully defended his No. 1 seed at 130 pounds. Teammates Victor Darden (140), Kevin Hash (145), Ryan Bragg (160) and Doni Wilkins (189) each tied for third.

When the team scores were announced, coach David Lee raised his hands in the air and said "yeah, baby." The Saints have finished among the top four teams in all three invitational appearances and easily surpassed their 170-point total from a year ago.

Brown and Turner's gold-medal contributions helped Eastern Wayne take 10th place in the 17-team field with 107 points. The duo combined for a 7-0 record that included five pinfalls and two decisions.

"Travis and David ... I was at least hoping they would do what they did," said Eastern Wayne head coach Mike Brown, whose team has two top-10 finishes in two invitational appearances. "I thought Travis had a serious shot at beating John (Robertson). I expected David to win, but didn't expect him to dominate the way he did.

"He didn't let anybody score a point. He basically wrestled three almost-perfect matches. It was great to see him wrestle that good."

Transfers Chris Tesar and Chris Martin had solid days. Tesar captured second at 103 pounds, while Martin tied for third at 130.

"Martin got a tough draw in the first round being unseeded and unranked, and having to go against an Aycock kid," coach Brown said. "He battled back; a good job of him not getting down on himself.

"Tesar wrestled above himself ... fantastic."

Senior Ramsey Brown, an all-state wrestler last season, and California transfer Michael Sander secured gold medals for Rosewood. The tandem helped the Eagles end up ninth with 112 points -- 10 points behind traditional Class 4-A power D.H. Conley.

Fellow Eagle Clayton Taylor dropped a 13-8 decision to Broughton's Adam Newson in the 215-pound final. Newson became the invitational's first three-time champion after taking back-to-back titles at 189 pounds in 2002 and 2003.

Jeremiah Goodson took fourth at 135 pounds.

Spring Creek finished 14th overall with 55 points, its highest point production since starting a wrestling program three years ago. Tim Buckingham concluded the day 3-1 and settled for a tie at 152 pounds.

Competitors wrestled back to fifth and sixth place in the invitational, which took roughly 11 hours to complete. Several wrestlers reached the five-match maximum due to having two extra rounds for the fifth-place matches. The N.C. High School Athletic Association does not allow a wrestler to compete in more than five matches in one day.