02/27/06 — Record-settings weekend for Wayne County grapplers

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Record-settings weekend for Wayne County grapplers

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 27, 2006 2:30 PM

"Man, you're in for a busy day!"

By 11 p.m. Saturday, that sentence had bored a hole in my weary head. But I didn't mind one bit.

Wayne County wrestlers and teams, for the second consecutive year, enjoyed a record-breaking weekend during the N.C. High School Athletic Association Wrestling Championships in Winston-Salem. That made the 12-hour day seem almost timeless and priceless.

A year ago I needed one hand to count off the state placers. This year, I added one hand and a big toe. Charles B. Aycock, Eastern Wayne, Southern Wayne and Spring Creek combined for a county-record 11 state placers. Included in that group were three state runners-up, the most in county history since 1959, and you've read about them already.

"Wayne County has had a good weekend," an out-of-town coach said to me before the finals matches started.

"You're going to be busy writing tomorrow, aren't you?" another writer asked while we viewed the 215-pound championship match in the Classes 1-A/2-A division.

Honestly, all I could think about was the 21/2-hour drive home and getting some sleep.

I'd worry about writing later.

As the exit signs passed by in blurry fashion, I just couldn't imagine that three-plus months had gone by so quickly.

It seems like only yesterday I was sitting in the Eastern Wayne coaches office -- in the old gym -- and interviewing Chris Tesar for the preseason wrestling page. Tesar talked about reaching the state tournament unbeaten and then concentrating on each match one at a time.

I can remember hearing coaches talk about the depth and strength that Charles B. Aycock has enjoyed in recent years. The Golden Falcons continued that trend and turned in a record-setting season on the dual-team level.

Eastern Wayne posted a program-best 22 dual-team wins with 10th-year head coach Mike Brown. Tesar, Detori Mitchell, Joey Burridge, Brian Lincoln, Travis Turner and Brandon Johnson each recorded more than 40 individual wins. Turner finished with a single-season, county-record 64 victories against five losses.

Southern Wayne, with a first-year coach, struggled but managed to gain some momentum in the conference tournament. The Saints carried four grapplers to the state meet and three placed among the top six.

Rosewood continued its run on the 1-A/2-A scene. Despite having one senior in the starting lineup and not having several underclassmen return, the Eagles captured the inaugural Carolina/Tar-Roanoke/Albemarle Conference regular-season and tournament crowns.

And who can forget Wes Denham? Born in a wrestling family and frustrated from two previous trips to the state tournament, Denham -- a Spring Creek senior -- emerged a silver medalist at 215 pounds this season. He exits as the most-decorated wrestler in Gator history and has undoubtedly set the standard for that young program.

"All the Wayne County teams can be very proud of what we accomplished Saturday," said Aycock coach Kevin Smith. "All the coaches are doing a super job. We all get along so well, and this weekend was no different.

"It felt like we were all on the same team this weekend. We all cheered for one another, and helped each other out where we can."

I agree.



Where's my pillow?