02/10/06 — Eastern runner-up ... again - Morehead denies Aycock's title bid

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Eastern runner-up ... again - Morehead denies Aycock's title bid

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 10, 2006 2:30 PM

PIKEVILLE -- Charles B. Aycock is becoming a second home for the John M. Morehead wrestling team during the postseason.

The Panthers captured eastern regional dual-team championships during previous trips to Pikeville in 2003 and 2004. They added another title -- the program's sixth overall -- Thursday evening at the Golden Falcons' expense.

Morehead emerged victorious in the final four individual bouts and cruised past C.B. Aycock 44-16 in the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A East Regional finals. The Panthers (39-3) wrestle St. Stephens for the state title on Saturday.

The Golden Falcons concluded their most-successful season in school history at 29-1.

"We got beat by a great wrestling team. That's the plain, hard truth," said Aycock coach Kevin Smith. "We had some critical matchups that we had to win to have a chance, and we just were not able to win enough of those matchups.

"They won the close matches and that was the difference in the score."

Scanning the lineup sheet and wondering if the Morehead coaching staff would move any wrestlers, Smith figured the Golden Falcons needed wins from veterans Ngu Tran (119 pounds), Derek Lancaster (125) and Ronald Lynn (140).

It never happened.

Smith's worst nightmare became reality during the opening match between Tran and Morehead's Bobby Shanor. Shanor nearly pinned Tran in the second period, but Tran went to his belly and avoided getting turned onto his back.

Tran escaped to start the third and took Shanor, the state's top-ranked wrestler, down in the final half minute. But Shanor didn't allow Tran to get the necessary position for two takedown points and survived 5-3.

Lancaster could never get any momentum in a 7-4 loss against the Panthers' Greg Harrison, a three-time state qualifier. Morehead earned a fall at 130 and drew a forfeit at 135 to build an 18-0 lead overall.

"(Morehead) has a great staff and their kids were very well-prepared for tonight," said Smith.

Aycock hoped to break the Panthers' momentum at 140 pounds, which featured two state-ranked wrestlers -- Lynn and Jason Moran. Lynn entered the bout ranked third, according to the Super 32 Report, while Moran stood fifth.

After a scoreless first period, Moran took bottom and escaped Lynn's hold. The Panther senior added a takedown and Lynn countered with a reverse to pull within 3-2.

Lynn tied the match at 3-3 with a third-period escape, but Moran collected a crucial takedown in the last 30 seconds for the 5-3 win. Morehead extended its lead to 21-0 and Smith stared at his lineup sheet again on the sideline.

"We really needed those matches to have any chance," said Smith after the loss.

Bryant Lancaster collected Aycock's first win of the evening, a tightly-contested 12-11 decision against Victor Cresenzo at 145. Steve Bentley followed with a 5-2 victory at 152, and Tim Harrison added a 13-5 major decision at 160.

The Golden Falcons climbed within 21-10.

"Tim continues to be not only a great wrestler for us, but also a great leader," said Smith. "He has really been another coach for us this year, and a lot of our success can be attributed to that."

Sophomore 189-pounder Zach Wright claimed Aycock's final win -- a third-period fall against Clay Pratt. Smith's squad trailed 26-16 at that point.

"Zach got us within striking distance," said Smith.

But Morehead, which is a phenomenal 33-4 in postseason play, answered with a key win at 215. Micah Stanfield edged Jarrett Covar 6-4 in overtime to start the match-ending 18-0 run.

"Despite a falter in our final match, I think reaching the regional finals with such a young team is something these kids can be proud of," said Smith, whose all-time playoff record is 15-7-1.

Aycock reached the final with a 35-26 decision over Havelock.

Jason Steed's second-period fall at 171 gave the Golden Falcons their biggest lead at 32-16. The Rams seized the next three individual matches and rallied to within 32-26.

"We made a move 71 and we thought, quite frankly, that our 60-pounder K.C. (Falls) could handle their 71," said veteran Havelock coach Ed Cruz. "He's got a bit of a twisted back, so if he gets on his back, he can't fight like he normally would be able to.

"We got the win at 89, but were hoping to get a little more out of that. At heavyweight, they made sure they could stop our offense and get away with a decision, which is what they did."

But it wasn't over.

Sophomore Drake Gurley collected the initial takedown against David Henninger and added another takedown late in the opening period. Henninger posted a third-period takedown, but Gurley held on and secured the Golden Falcons' second consecutive trip to the regional finals.

"Knowing that you are the last wrestler to stop on the mat and that your match will decide your team's fate, is a huge burden to bear," said Smith. "Jordan (Pearson) got it done for us Tuesday night and Drake tonight. It's nice to know that two sophomores have won some deciding dual matches for us over these last two days.

"It bodes well for us in the future."

2006 N.C. High School

Athletic Association Class 3-A

Dual-Team Playoffs

(at C.B. Aycock HS, Pikeville)

East semifinal

C.B. Aycock 35

Havelock 26

112 -- Nathan Fennell (H) wbf Jordan Pearson, 3:58.4; 119 -- Ngu Tran (CBA) maj. dec. Matt Bowman, 13-0; 125 -- Stuart Griffiths (H) wbf Sam Rabhan, 2:23; 130 -- Derek Lancaster (CBA) tech fall Comaldy Becton, 21-4 (4:47); 135 -- Melvin Whitehurst (H) maj. dec. Josh Overton, 16-8; 140 -- Ronald Lynn (CBA) wbf Aaron Kimble, 0:53; 145 -- Bryant Lancaster (CBA) dec. Loren Boone, 4-3; 152 -- Steve Bentley (CBA) dec. Henry Steinman, 8-2; 160 -- Tim Harrison (CBA) tech fall Ben Averitt, 24-8 (3:31.5); 171 -- Jason Steed (CBA) wbf K.C. Falls, 3:21.8; 189 -- Brian Norris (H) dec. Zach Wright, 4-2; 215 -- Ken Roberts (H) maj. dec. Jarrett Covar, 14-4; Hwt -- Lennis Frazier (H) dec. Shane Lozier, 5-2; 103 -- Drake Gurley (CBA) dec. David Henninger, 4-3.

Records: C.B. Aycock 29-0, Havelock 24-4.

East championship

John M. Morehead 44

C.B. Aycock 16

119 -- Bobby Shanor (M) dec. Ngu Tran, 5-3; 125 -- Greg Harrison (M) dec. Derek Lancaster, 7-4; 130 -- Jake Haynes (M) wbf Sam Rabhan, 1:34.7; 135 -- Josh Cochran (M) by forfeit; 140 -- Jason Moran (M) dec. Ronald Lynn, 5-3; 145 -- Bryant Lancaster (CBA) dec. Victor Cresenzo, 12-11; 152 -- Steve Bentley (CBA) dec. Zach Brown, 5-2; 160 -- Tim Harrison (CBA) maj. dec. David Hopkins, 13-5; 171 -- Allen Shelton (M) tech fall Jason Steed, 17-2; 189 -- Zach Wright (CBA) wbf Clay Pratt, 5:45.7; 215 -- Micah Stanfield (M) dec. Jarrett Covar, 6-4 (OT); Hwt -- Daniel Bradford (M) wbf Shane Lozier, 4:24; 103 -- D.J. Troxler (M) wbf Drake Gurley, 2:49; 112 -- Chris Stanley (M) dec. Jordan Pearson, 9-2.

Records: C.B. Aycock 29-1, Morehead 39-3.