Aycock wrestlers fall short in playoffs
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 6, 2005 2:03 AM
HILLSBOROUGH - Huddled around its coach, the Charles B. Aycock wrestling team -- especially the seniors -- stared off into space. Tears streamed down their cheeks as they listened to their coach's post-game speech.
Words couldn't replace the disappointment the Golden Fal-cons felt after their 36-27 loss to Orange High in the N.C. High Sc-hool Athletic Association Class 3-A dual-team eastern regional championship Friday evening. The Panthers snapped Aycock's program-best 15-match win streak and wrestled East Gaston Saturday evening for the state title.
Fighting back tears, a solemn Kevin Smith sat on his knees and talked with his grapplers. The bright red scorebook, a marker of the Golden Falcons' success this season, lay in front of him.
"We wrestled with plenty of heart and our intensity was high for the entire match," Smith said. "What hurt us was that we allowed things that were out of our control interfere with our focus, and we made some mistakes on the mat. Orange was quick to pounce on our mistakes.
"I feel that our loss of focus was the real difference in the match. There are a lot of variables that go on during a match; the kids have to understand that they cannot get caught up in all the other variables. Their only job is to be focused and wrestle hard for six minutes."
Throughout the match, Aycock wrestlers mumbled "major decisions" and "tech falls" to themselves on the sidelines. Realizing they wouldn't get many pins at this level of competition, the Golden Falcons needed to wrestle sound, technical matches to advance to their first state-title match in school history.
Orange collected four pins compared to two pins, a tech fall and a major decision for the Golden Falcons.
Officials whistled Aycock for uncharacteristic stalling calls and Smith's team struggled to wrestle off the bottom in several key matches. One stalling infraction, which led to a penalty point, resulted in an overtime victory for the Panthers.
Tied at 15-15, the Golden Falcons forged ahead 27-18 on two crucial victories by heavyweight Dustin Gurley and 112-pounder Derek Lancaster. Gurley put Adam Kelly on his back early and eventually earned a 46-second pin. Lancaster trailed 5-2 against Hart Holloman, but scored a reverse and stuck Holloman with 9 seconds remaining in the second period.
"A year ago, he would have lost all focus if he had gone down by five points," Smith said of Lancaster. "Derek is a gutsy kid. More than once I've seen him dig himself out of an early hole to win a match. He is a very mentally tough wrestler."
The Panthers, champions of the Five County Conference, answered with a second-period pin at 119.
Smith put senior Greg Coudriet, who hadn't wrestled since mid-December, on the mat at 125. Coudriet notched two third-period takedowns to force overtime against Bryant Parrish.
After a scoreless first OT, Parrish took the bottom position for the 30-second session. Coudriet avoided two reversal attempts and appeared to have control near the outer circle on Parrish's third try. With time quickly elapsing, Parrish nudged Coudriet just a little and earned the match-clinching reversal.
Questionable stalling infractions helped Orange take control overall in the 130-pound match. The official awarded several penalty points, including one less than 30 seconds into overtime, which favored the Panthers' Matt Hawksworth.
The Panthers (21-1) closed out the match and thwarted the Golden Falcons' state-title hopes with a first-period pin at 135.
"Orange is a very hot team right now," Smith said. "They beat a very good Morehead team, and they beat us. All of their kids were well behaved and respectful to our coaching staff and wrestlers."
Aycock (16-2) exorcised a few demons in its semifinal-round match against West Carteret, which had eliminated Smith's team from postseason play each of the past two seasons. Trailing 6-5, the Golden Falcons reeled off seven straight individual victories and ousted the Patriots 33-30.
"We got over what has been a major speed bump for us for several years tonight," said Smith, whose team snapped a five-game skid against their conference nemesis. "We wrestled a nearly-flawless match. Every kid wrestled aggressive and with a lot of emotion. Without a doubt, that match was the best we have wrestled all year."
Jason Steed started the Golden Falcons' 28-0 run with a 4-0 decision at 160 pounds. John Robertson (171 pounds) followed with a major decision against Ryan Offenberger, while Turner Wood doubled up Patrick O'Reilly 12-6 in their 189-pound tilt.
Newcomer Andy Wilson trailed early against Billy O'Neal, but rallied for a 7-5 victory at 215. Gurley followed with a third-period pin against Kenny Matthews, avenging his loss in last week's Eastern Carolina Conference tournament.
"That was Dustin's best match of the year," Smith said. "He had a very good period-by-period plan of what he wanted to do. I was very proud of his match."
Lancaster secured the match with a first-period pin.
Aycock trails West Carteret 5-2 in the all-time series, but has won both matches on the road. Patriot coach Dan Varner lamented the effort of his 189-pounder and heavyweight, but immediately credited Smith's team for its performance.
"C.B. Aycock came to wrestle and our guys didn't," Varner said. "They wrestled great and wrestled to win."
The dual-team season ended Saturday, but individual play continues next weekend. Aycock and West Carteret (27-4) return to action Friday and Saturday in the 3-A East regional at Wilson Hunt.
The top four placers in each weight class advance to the NCHSAA Championships scheduled Feb. 18-19 at Lawrence Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem.
"I know the initial hurt of losing out when we were so close to our ultimate goal will eventually wear off, and we will see the true significance of this night," Smith said. "We took a huge step forward for our program this evening. We got ourselves out of a cage and moved our program one step closer to a future state championship.
"There is a lot of wrestling to do and we have a lot of post-season goals still left undone."
Notes: Aycock's all-time playoff record is 12-9. ... Dustin Gurley, Turner Wood, Greg Coudriet, Randy Meisenhelder and John Robertson -- all seniors -- served as captains for both matches. ... Ronald Lynn, Steed, Robertson, Wood, Gurley and Lancaster each finished the evening 2-0. ... Aycock recorded 28 takedowns combined against West Carteret and Orange.
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