12/08/05 — Rams roll past Eagles

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Rams roll past Eagles

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on December 8, 2005 2:02 PM

Veteran coach Bill Edmundson expected the loss of several returning starters and a mix of inexperienced wrestlers would lead to a rebuilding season at Rosewood.

He's right.

With five first-year starters and in some cases, first-week grapplers in the lineup, the Eagles were no match for Greene Central on Wednesday evening. The Rams collected eight falls and prevailed 54-30 for their first-ever victory in program history against Rosewood.

"Greene Central deserved the win tonight. It is as simple as that," said Edmundson of the season-opening defeat. "Coach (Dan) Minor has taken his squad, made huge fundamental improvements and it is paying off for them.

"(Our youth) is great for the future, but not too good for duals right now. I would be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed in tonight's performance. I am a competitor and I don't like losing."

Third-year Rams coach Dan Minor seemed surprised by the outcome. Rosewood had easily outscored his two previous teams 132-31.

"I'm not as surprised with the win as I am the (series-high) 54 points we got tonight," said Minor. "We still have four or five guys who are first-year wrestlers and that's a little tough. We do have some older and stronger kids in the lineup, and that helps.

"They have some good kids who were running moves on us and they are still a strong team. We don't think we got a cupcake tonight."

Greene Central (3-1) seized the initial takedown in seven of 11 contested matches. Five of those takedowns led to falls by heavyweight Justin Wellington, 103-pounder Phillip Freeman, Billy Teston (145 pounds), Tim McNair (152) and Robert Tyndall (160).

Wellington claimed his team-leading 10th win. Freeman earned a 27-second pin and climbed to 5-2 overall.

Minor said that experience aided his wrestlers in a couple of key matches, particularly Teston's win over Byron Cavenaugh. The two grapplers struggled to get top position and when Teston finally secured an advantage, it resulted in a 51-second pin.

"They rolled each other over a couple of times and it was a matter of who settled (down) first," said Minor.

While the Rams dominated the overall outcome, the Eagles got solid performances from 112-pounder Olivia Neal, 130-pounder Chris Hare and senior captain Matt Davis (135). Neal, however, had the most surprising -- and crowd-pleasing -- victory of the evening.

Chastised by her teammates before she took the mat, Neal turned the teasing into positive energy and recorded the first takedown against James Thomas. The wrestlers traded reversals and Thomas escaped Neal's hold to gain a neutral stance.

Neal took Thomas to the mat again and scored two nearfall points, which drew whistles and applause from a partisan Eagle crowd. A sophomore, Neal couldn't quite squeeze Thomas' head enough to force his shoulder blades to the mat before time expired.

"I forgot to breathe," laughed Neal, who replaced regular starter Jim Bish in the lineup.

Neal took the down position to start the second period and immediately reversed hold on Thomas. She locked him into a cradle and collected the team's first-ever pin by a female 21 seconds into the period.

"I felt him mess up, so I grabbed his head and his leg ... pulled him back," said Neal. "I was not about to let him go because if I did, I didn't think I could pin him. I just had to do it right now."

Neal's pin stopped a 24-0 run by the Rams.

J.D. Baker picked up a forfeit and after a Greene Central pin at 125, the Eagles received back-to-back wins from Hare and Davis. Hare pinned Chris Jones in 1 minute, 2.6 seconds. Davis, who is recovering from an eye injury, stuck Cameron Taylor in 1:01.4.

"Chris continues to improve and his style is so similar to Ramsey (Brown) because they were partners last year," said Edmundson. "Chris is fun to watch and we're expecting great things from him.

"Matt wrestled a great match against Taylor despite having five stitches in his upper eyelid."

Rosewood (0-1) returns to action Saturday in the 10th annual Eagle Invitational. The 21-team tournament begins at 9:15 a.m. Admission is $6 and no passes will be honored.

Greene Central 54

Rosewood 30

189 -- Darrin Gorham (GC) wbf Chris Holmes, 3:24; 215 -- Marquis Eanes (GC) wbf Brandon Dean, 2:54; Hwt -- Justin Wellington (GC) wbf Trevor Morris, 3:33; 103 -- Phillip Freeman (GC) wbf Gabriel Castro, 0:27; 112 -- Olivia Neal (RHS) wbf James Thomas, 2:21; 119 -- J.D. Baker (RHS) by forfeit; 125 -- Robert Phillips (GC) wbf Josh Holmes, 2:50; 130 -- Chris Hare (RHS) wbf Chris Jones, 1:03; 135 -- Matt Davis (RHS) wbf Cameron Taylor, 1:02; 140 -- Jeffery Shingleton (GC) by forfeit; 145 -- Billy Teston (GC) wbf Byron Cavenaugh, 0:51; 152 -- Tim McNair (GC) wbf Trent Harrell, 1:35; 160 -- Robert Tyndall (GC) wbf Jordan Owens, 1:18; 171 -- T.J. Sprinkle (RHS) by forfeit.