02/21/05 — Wrestling trio finishes 2nd

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Wrestling trio finishes 2nd

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 21, 2005 1:57 PM

WINSTON-SALEM -- Bill Edmundson knew the history surrounding wrestling in Wayne County long before he assembled one of the state's top Class 1-A programs at Rosewood.

Edmundson remembers several grapplers who stood out at Goldsboro High and set the standard on the mat. The Cougar program produced a whopping a 25 state champions during the open era and on the 4-A scene.

When Edmundson began constructing his program, he spent time with the late Terry Pilkington, who turned Charles B. Aycock into a 3-A power before his untimely -- and shocking -- death in 1998. Edmundson gained considerable knowledge from Pilkington, who wrestled at Goldsboro, and smartly applied that information to his program.

During that time, Eastern Wayne and Southern Wayne owned the steady programs, and experienced success on the region and state level. The coaches, through no fault of their own, couldn't seem to match the tradition set by Goldsboro -- which to this day -- is the lone school to have team championship banners hanging in its gymnasium.

But wrestling in Wayne County is slowly moving back toward achieving the elite status established by Goldsboro.

Aycock, Eastern Wayne, Southern Wayne and Rosewood combined for a record-setting nine state placers during the 19th annual N.C. High School Athletic Association Wrestling Championships this weekend. The previous record was eight set in 1956 by Goldsboro when it had three state champions, three runner-ups and two third-place finishes.

"I am so proud of what our county has accomplished," Edmundson said. "Wrestling has come so far."

However, the record setting didn't end there.

* Eastern Wayne 103-pounder Chris Tesar became the county's first-ever freshman to place at the state tournament;

* John Robertson emerged just the second two-time state placer in Aycock history. Teammates Randy Meisenhelder, Ngu Tran, Andy Wilson and Turner Wood each recorded a top-six showing and gave the Golden Falcons a program-best five state placers. Robertson and Wood became the third and fourth wrestlers to earn all-state status at Aycock;

* The Golden Falcons amassed 85 points, good enough for fourth place in the team competition. That's the best finish by a county team since Goldsboro claimed the state championship in 1974 with William Kemp as head coach;

* Rosewood senior Ramsey Brown tied a county record for career wins (154) set by former Southern Wayne standout Ronny Denham. Brown became just the second Eagle to achieve all-state status.

A home-grown athlete with natural and instinctive abilities, Brown entered the two-day tournament as the East's No. 2 seed. He rallied for a come-from-behind, 7-6 victory in the semifinals against Salisbury's Kendall Mowery.

That set up a third meeting against Manteo's Mike Boring, the East champion, who edged Brown by two points for the Classes 1-A/2-A regional title.

"I figured out what he liked to do ... sort of read him like a book," Boring said. "I know what to expect and how to react against his speed. Once I got that first takedown, I wanted to play it smart and not do anything stupid.

"It's hard to get that early lead (against Brown) and keep it."

Boring (37-1) earned a first-period takedown and second-period reversal. He maintained a 4-0 lead until late in the third period when Brown put together three straight points -- an escape and takedown.

Brown (43-3) tried to turn the lanky Boring onto his back. But time expired and Boring celebrated his first-ever state championship with a 4-3 decision.

"I think many people were surprised to see two East wrestlers in a rematch of the regional finals wrestling for the state title," Edmundson said. "I honestly think 112 was the toughest weight class in every division. I am so proud of the way Ramsey ended his prep career.

"Sure, a state title would have been great, but I am so satisfied with the effort he gave and how far he has come to have had no middle-school or wrestling-camp experience."

The regional runner-up at 171 pounds, Robertson appeared focus from the first whistle in Friday's opening-round victory against Asheboro's Bryn-Marc Conaway. Robertson upended Orange High's Chase Kernodle, the Midwest Region champ, in the quarterfinals.

Robertson reached the championship with a 10-6 victory against St. Stephens' Dylan Godfrey, who won the West region. Godfrey began losing momentum in the second period and Robertson (49-4) scored a key third-period takedown to seal the win.

"He kind of gassed out a little bit (in the second) and that's where conditioning comes in, I guess," Robertson said. "I wrestled like I have all year. If I get up early in the match, I've got a lot of confidence in myself."

Robertson opposed Tony Cress, of Northwest Cabarrus, in the title bout. Cress built a two-point advantage on back-to-back escapes and eventually pinned Robertson with 22 seconds left in the match.

Veteran coach Kevin Smith couldn't have been more proud of Robertson, who has undergone anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery on both knees.

"John always finds a little something extra for the big matches," Smith said. "When the post-season comes around, he seems to find another gear. It's that trait that really stands out in my mind about him.

"I never worry about him when there is a tough match on the line."

Smith never frets about Wood, either.

The 189-pound senior rolled Friday with wins against Kaleb Pettigrew (Rockingham County) and Travis Krogman (St. Stephens). Wood reached the finals with a second-period pin against Eastern Randolph's Josh Moore, the Midwest runner-up.

When Wood took the mat against Southwestern Randolph's Jeremy Perdue, he appeared to be looking into a mirror. The two wrestlers had basically the same style, which left little room for error in what turned out to be an intense, six-minute battle.

After a scoreless first period, Wood chose bottom to get that all-important first point if the match happened to go into double overtime. Perdue answered with a takedown at the 44-second mark and slowly took command of the match.

Perdue (44-1) collected an escape and took Wood down with less than a minute remaining. Wood escaped, attempted to take down Perdue, who slipped from his grasp and snagged the crucial two points to secure the 7-3 decision.

"Turner wrestled great all weekend," Smith said. "His pin in the semis was truly a special moment for me because I knew how hard he had worked all year to reach the state finals. He wrestles with class and intensity, and always gives all he has."

Wood and Robertson join Brandon Godwin and Ryan Batts on the state-placer and all-state lists. It's the first time in program history that two Golden Falcons placed in the same season.

"John and Turner both wrestled their best this weekend," Smith said. "They beat tough competition and I was proud of them even in their losses because I knew they had given everything they had.

"This was a super weekend for us. We came up just a few points short in the end, but our program really took a huge step forward this weekend."

Jamestown Ragsdale crowned three individual champions and broke East Gaston's three-year stranglehold on the team title. The Tigers prevailed 97-96.5, while West Carteret ended up third with 85.5 points.

Southern Wayne, led by senior Thomas Mosshammer, finished 28th overall with 22 points. Mosshammer lost in the quarterfinals, but wrestled back to third overall for his second top-six finish in three state meets.

Eastern Wayne finished with 19 points and in a four-way tie with Enka, Jacksonville and Washington. Tesar became just the third state-placer in Warrior history behind 119-pound 4-A champ Nick Smith (1987) and Phillip Ramirez, who finished third at 119 in 2001.

Rounding out the state placers were Rosewood heavyweight Michael Sander (4th); and Aycock's trio of Randy Meisenhelder (5th, 152 pounds), Ngu Tran (4th, 119) and junior 215-pounder Andy Wilson (6th).