Eastern Wayne wrestlers pin loss on rival Saints
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 12, 2005 2:01 PM
Just minutes before the opening match against archrival Southern Wayne, veteran Eastern Wayne wrestling coach Mike Brown herded his team back into the dressing room.
As he closed the door, Brown reminded his team of its pre-season objectives, including earning a trip to the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A dual-team playoffs.
Consider that goal accomplished.
Freshman heavyweight Eric Stover, with the outcome hanging in the balance, seized the final individual match as the Warriors survived the intense- and emotion-filled Saints 40-33. The victory propelled Eastern Wayne into the post-season for the second time in the last three years, and ended the Saints' run of three consecutive playoff appearances.
"That was a good win because we hadn't beaten Southern Wayne in a while," Brown said.
But the Saints, short-handed and inexperienced, threw a scare into the Warriors. After falling behind 9-0, they turned the match in their favor and silenced the partisan Eastern Wayne crowd with a 27-0 spurt.
Tristan Bass started the surge with a come-from-behind 14-9 decision at 119 pounds. Teammates Josh Richards (125), Thomas Mosshammer (130), and Vic Darden (140) each pinned their respective opponent in the opening period. Eric Futrell needed two-plus periods to pin Detori Mitchell in their 135-pound bout.
"I thought our lower weights stepped up as much as they could tonight," Saints coach David Lee said.
The chess match started after Futrell's victory.
Brown made one move that involved three wrestlers, and the trio responded with critical victories. Joey Burridge (145) and Timmy Brown (152) each notched a pin, while Brian Lincoln (160) battled for a 12-4 major decision.
Burridge faced Kevin Hash, who hadn't wrestled in at least a month. The two battled to a scoreless tie after one period. Hash chose the bottom position to start the second period and 32 seconds later, Burridge pinned him to start a 28-0 run for the Warriors.
"Joey wasn't sure if he could beat the kid at 40 and I thought he could beat the kid at 45," Brown said. "He was confident in himself after beating the Hunt kid (Patric Coleman) last weekend. He went out there and did what he had to do.
"That was the start of it (match turnaround)."
Travis Turner kept the momentum with a first-period pin and senior David Brown received a forfeit to make it 37-27. Southern Wayne 215-pounder Doni Wilkins stuck Brandon Johnson midway through the first period and closed the gap to 37-33.
That brought Stover and the Saints' Josh Robinson, also a freshman, to the mat. Neither grappler gained any advantage in the first two minutes. Stover prevented Robinson from locking his hands inside to set up for the bear hug. Meanwhile, Robinson prevented Stover from getting leverage for a throw or tripping him.
Robinson escaped from the bottom to gain a one-point advantage in the second period. The two battled toe to toe as time expired and Stover elected to take the top position for the final two-minute session.
Stover effectively used the ankle pick and kept Robinson on the mat as time slowly ticked away. With less than 10 seconds to go, Stover turned Robinson into position for a nearfall and collected three points as the buzzer sounded.
"I told him before he went out (to wrestle) that he had the chance to be a hero again," Brown said. "We had talked earlier in the week about bumping him up and he (Eric) told me he was confident. He thought he could take him.
"He came through for us at Rosewood on the last match and he did it again tonight."
Lee knew the Saints would need four points to force a tie and they would win based on pin criteria -- five falls compared to three for the Warriors.
"That was a lot of pressure to put on our heavyweight there at the end," Lee said. "He stepped out and did the best job he could. I'm proud of everybody.
"I knew it was going to be close. You have to give it up to Eastern Wayne. They came to wrestle."
Notes: Eastern Wayne finished fifth with 104.5 points in the Hunt Invitational this past weekend. ... Chris Tesar (103) and Travis Turner (171) each captured gold medals. ... Senior David Brown (189) suffered a shoulder injury and defaulted from his championship match. ... Joey Burridge finished third at 140 pounds, while Timmy Brown (145) and heavyweight Eric Stover each turned in a fourth-place effort.
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