02/21/06 — Area wrestlers headed to state

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Area wrestlers headed to state

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 21, 2006 2:14 PM

MOREHEAD CITY -- Before wrestling his first individual match of the season, Chris Tesar sat in the old gymnasium athletic office and stated he wanted to achieve one goal -- a perfect record -- through regional competition this season.

Tesar turned that admittedly bold goal into reality late Saturday evening at West Carteret. A former middle school champion in Alaska, the Eastern Wayne sophomore claimed the 112-pound championship with a 9-7 decision against Havelock standout Nathan Fennell.

But, more importantly, Tesar claimed his 55th victory -- against no losses -- heading into this weekend's N.C. High School Athletic Association Wrestling Championships in Winston-Salem. He became the first-ever Wayne County grappler to reach 100 career wins as a sophomore, which is also an Eastern Wayne record.

While Tesar enjoyed a phenomenal weekend during the Class 3-A regional on the Crystal Coast, he wasn't the only Warrior to seize a gold medal. Teammates Travis Turner (171 pounds) and Brandon Johnson (215) picked up regional titles and qualified for the two-day event at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Junior Brian Lincoln, who finished third at 160 pounds, and Detori Mitchell (140 pounds, fourth) also advanced to the state finals. Each is making their first-ever appearance along with Johnson.

Eastern Wayne ended up fourth overall with 110 points among the 22 participating teams.

Meanwhile, Charles B. Aycock seized its third consecutive team championship, but had to share it with Havelock. The Golden Falcons and Rams, who each had just one regional champion, each amassed 124.5 points. West Carteret claimed third with 118.5 points. Jacksonville (100.5 points) grabbed fifth behind the Warriors, while Southern Wayne took sixth with 99.5 points.

"It takes more than just a few regional champions to win the team title," said C.B. Aycock coach Kevin Smith. "It takes the other kids on your team scoring points for you whenever they get a chance. Obviously, our (six) qualifiers deserve a lot of credit for our success this weekend, but I have to credit our non-qualifiers in scoring some important points for us as well.

"It was the most-competitive region I have been to since I have been coaching. Five teams had a chance to win the team title, and every team had some tough wrestlers."

Junior Ngu Tran (119 pounds) exited as Aycock's lone individual champion. Tran recorded technical falls in every match he wrestled, including a 17-2 triumph over Jacksonville's Adam Justice in the finals.

Seniors Derek Lancaster (125), Tim Harrison (160) and Shane Lozier (heavyweight) each finished second in their respective weight classes. Ronald Lynn was third at 140 and Bryant Lancaster settled for fourth at 145. All five qualified for the state tournament.

"The weekend was a mixed bag for us," said Smith. "We met some goals and fell short on others. Our expectations are always high, and we have to wrestle extremely well every time we step onto the mat to meet those expectations.

"The simple fact is we wrestled well enough to win, but not well enough to be 100 percent happy with what we accomplished."

Lancaster and Lynn each experienced 'déjà vu' during the regional.

Southern Wayne's Tristan Bass defeated Lancaster for the gold medal in a rematch of the Eastern Carolina Conference final, also won by Bass. Lynn, again, had trouble with Southern Wayne's Vic Darden during their semifinal-round bout. Darden posted a major decision against Lynn and later pinned Wilson Beddingfield's Darren Gardner in the championship match. It was Darden's first-ever regional crown.

Fellow Saints Josh Robinson (heavyweight) and junior 112-pounder Doogie Niemond qualified for the state tournament. Robinson defeated Lozier 8-2 in the heavyweight championship match. Niemond finished third overall after a loss against Fennell in the semifinals.

Rosewood qualified three wrestlers for the 1-A/2-A state tournament.

Chris Hare recorded a second-place showing at 125 pounds. Jim Bish and senior Matt Davis each ended up third at 112 and 130 pounds, respectively.

"Chris has been working so hard this year," said Rosewood coach Bill Edmundson. "It was a joy to watch him shine at the regionals. Even though he was seeded second, everyone was asking 'Chris who?' Now they know.

"Matt, Jim and Chris have been part of the same practice group all year. It was great seeing them qualify for the state championships together."

The Eagles had five wrestlers advance to the eight-man, double-elimination round. Sophomore Olivia Neal, the No. 2 seed at 103 pounds, pinned her opponent on Friday. Bish posted a technical fall. Hare, Davis and Chris Holmes each earned a pin, also.

"There were a few upsets on Friday night that we were not counting on, but in each case it was a young wrestler who can learn and grow from the experience," said Edmundson, who team claimed 10th overall with 61.5 points in the regional at Croatan.

Senior 215-pounder Wes Denham became the first-ever regional champion in Spring Creek history. A runner-up last season, Denham edged North Brunswick's Darryl Rattley 5-3. Denham is making his third appearance in the state tournament.