12/10/04 — OPINION -- Eagle Invitational stacked ... again

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OPINION -- Eagle Invitational stacked ... again

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on December 10, 2004 1:56 PM

Level of competition. A blend of solid programs in every classification. Mat time. Unfamiliar faces. All these elements -- each season -- comprise the annual Eagle Invitational orchestrated by Rosewood High wrestling coach Bill Edmundson.

A record 20 schools are participating in the ninth installment and opening-round matches are slated for an approximate 9 a.m. start. Admission for the day-long event is $5.

Nearly half the field features teams that won either their regular-season and/or tournament championships in conference play. About the same number advanced to the N.C. High School Athletic Association dual-team playoffs.

"(I wanted) a very fair and balanced mix of 1A-4A schools," Edmundson said. "The ultimate goal is mat time and the opportunity to see teams from our region that we don't normally get to see. With a completely-stacked tournament, most of the guys would only get two or three matches.

"Four or five matches is what I want for our athletes."

Charles B. Aycock is defending team champion, but has just two returning individual title-holders in its lineup this weekend. Randy Meisenhelder is the No. 1 seed at 145 pounds, while senior Turner Wood is the top seed at 189.

Overall, a total of five individual champions return.

Rosewood senior Ramsey Brown, who claimed the 103-pound title in 2003, is seeded second at 112 pounds behind Greensboro Page's Brandon Davis. Davis, a reigning state champion, won the Most Outstanding Wrestler award two weeks ago at the Turkey Invitational at Wilson Hunt.

Matt Davis emerged the 125 champ a year ago, but is in the 130-pound weight class this weekend.

North Pitt's Raymond Pearson is back to defend his 171-pound crown, but is the No. 2 seed. Eastern Wayne's Travis Turner, who has three individual titles to his credit this season, sits on the top perch.

The Eagles are coming off a season-best, third-place finish in the Pierce-Davis Memorial.

"Working from our feet, drilling and working on endurance were points of emphasis this week," Edmundson said. "Five days of practice without having to worry about a dual match has been tough on the guys, but great in terms of drilling time and technique work."

Edmundson has received quality outings from several first-year wrestlers, but one returnee -- Jeremiah Goodson -- has impressed him the most. Goodson spent the offseason training with former Eagle standout Aaron Lynch and its paid off thus far.

"One of the most polite young men you'll ever meet, Jeremiah decided last year that he enjoyed wrestling and he was willing to train, sacrifice and work to get better," Edmundson said. "If everyone on the team had his drive and desire, we would be a top-three team every week."

Goodson (9-5) is seeded in the middle of the pack at 135.

The six county schools comprise nearly one-third of the field. Nine county wrestlers, according to preliminary brackets released Friday morning, hold No. 1 seeds.

Eastern Wayne's Chris Tesar, a freshman, goes for his third straight individual title. Teammate Joey Burridge is the top seed at 140. Senior David Brown is seeded No. 2 at 189 behind Wood.

Number one seeds for Aycock, along with Meisenhelder and Wood, include Tim Harrison (152) and heavyweight Dustin Gurley.

Thomas Mosshammer (130) is Southern Wayne's lone top seed.

"You have to sit up and notice Wayne County's improvement in wrestling over the past few years. We all have been representing the county well in the various tournaments we attend," Edmundson said. "Where (Aycock coach) Kevin (Smith's) guys will technique you to death, (Southern coach) David (Lee's) guys are very aggressive and have tremendous endurance.

"(Eastern coach) Mike (Brown's) wrestlers have extensive mat experience and his team looks better this year."

Rosewood, Southern Wayne and Eastern Wayne all finished in the top eight a year ago. Edmundson feels this is the most-competitive tournament he's arranged and says it's "great that Wayne County will have so many potential champions there."