Golden Falcons defend title
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on December 12, 2006 1:48 PM
Four Wayne County wrestling teams finished among the top seven in the 11th annual Eagle Invitational contested Saturday at Rosewood.
Charles B. Aycock pulled away in the championship round and collected 156.75 points en route to its third consecutive tournament crown of the season. Seniors Ngu Tran, Ronald Lynn and Bryant Lancaster each remained unbeaten in their respective weight classes. Tran grabbed his 100th victory. Lynn posted a stunning final-round upset in the 135-pound weight class and walked away with the Most Outstanding Wrestler award.
Southern Wayne ended up second behind the Golden Falcons. Eastern Wayne and Jacksonville White Oak tied for third. Raleigh Millbrook rounded out the top five.
"The competition level was a great mix schools from different areas and with different types of wrestling," said Bill Edmundson, the Eagle Invitational organizer and Rosewood coach. "There were five teams within three points of each other (after the semifinals). That's the sign of a good tournament."
Nine of the 18 competing schools participated in the N.C. High School Athletic Association dual-team playoffs in February. Seven grapplers successfully defended their No. 1 seeds in the 14 weight classes wrestled, and nine schools had one or more individual champion.
Seven weight classes in the consolation round resulted in ties, while the 215-pound division ended in a four-way deadlock. The ties resulted from wrestlers reaching the five-match minimum allowed by the National Federation of High Schools.
The four county schools which had place winners combined for 25 of the 56 available medals. Aycock and Southern Wayne collected seven medals apiece. Rosewood recorded six medals and Eastern Wayne wound up with five. Medals were awarded to the top four finishers in each weight class.
"This tournament was definitely a step up in competition for us," said Aycock head coach Kevin Smith. "Just as we expected, there were five teams that had a shot of winning the tournament going into finals. Bill did a great job of bringing in some great teams.
"All of our wrestlers got some great matches today."
Lynn, seeded second, started his gold-medal run with a first-period fall against White Oak's Derek Collins. Lynn needed just 25 seconds to oust Rosewood's Josh Holmes in the quarterfinals and rolled past Southern Wayne's Tristan Bass in semifinal-round action.
Top-seeded Billy Edwards, a returning state qualifier for Leesville Road, pinned all three of his opponents and carried a 31-match win streak into the championship round. Edwards entered the day-long tournament ranked No. 2 among the state's Class 4-A 130-pounders.
Lynn notched the initial takedown over Edwards and eventually prevailed 9-6. Lynn snapped Edwards' win streak and remained perfect in 12 outings this season.
"We knew Ronald would have to wrestle flawlessly on his feet to win, so when he secured the first takedown in the match, we felt like that was huge," said Smith. "It was a super match; the type really don't expect to see this early in the season."
Tran, the top seed at 125 pounds, registered two falls and one technical. He improved to 10-0 overall and added his name to a growing list of 100-match winners during Smith's tenure at Aycock.
"Sometimes getting that 100th win can be a distraction, but it wasn't for Ngu," said Smith. "We get so many positive comments about Ngu from other coaches and opposing team's fans who are impressed with him for more than just his wrestling ability. That is what he and his family should be most proud of.
"We were all happy for him."
Lancaster delivered one fall and one decision, and earned a default in the 145-pound division. The top-seeded Lancaster climbed to 11-0 overall.
Fellow Golden Falcons Drake Gurley (112), Steve Bentley (152), Jarrett Covar (215) and heavyweight Khiry Reid each earned a bronze medal. Gurley and Bentley claimed third place outright, while Covar and Reid each settled for a tie.
"As a team, we had a super finals round, and that is what put us over the top," said Smith.
Eastern Wayne junior Chris Tesar (13-0) and senior Brandon Johnson (16-0) each returned home with their fourth gold medal of the season. Tesar, the No. 1 seed at 119 pounds, outscored opposing wrestlers 24-2 in his first two matches. He doubled up Millbrook's Evan Rudisill 12-6 in the championship.
Johnson opened the tournament with a second-round decision over West Craven's Jamaine Moore. He followed with back-to-back falls against Durham Jordan's Brandon Roberts and South Central's Matt Stoekle, respectively. He captured the gold medal with a hardfought 9-5 decision over Tarboro High's Corey Smith.
Just one of two schools to field a full team (14 wrestlers), Eastern Wayne had every wrestler to notch at least one victory during the day. Freshman Drew Tesar finished second at 103, which was his best effort of the season. Detori Mitchell took third at 140 pounds with a nail-biting 3-0 decision over Rocky Mount's Jamal Williams.
Brian Lincoln seized fourth at 152 pounds.
The Warriors accumulated 133 points overall.
Rosewood's Jim Bish and Southern Wayne's Doogie Neimond, both seniors, met for the second time this season. Neimond emerged victorious with a 7-2 decision over Bish in the 112-pound final, and gave the Saints' their lone goal medal of the day.
"Jim, bless his heart, missed every practice last week due to being sick," said Edmundson. "For him to go out there and even try to wrestle, I was proud of him."
The Saints' Josh Richards (140), Eric Futrell (145) and heavyweight Josh Robinson each grabbed a silver medal. Dustin Richards (125), Bass (135) and John Futrell (160) all tied for third in their respective weight classes.
J.D. Baker complemented Bish with a second-place performance at 125 pounds. Olivia Neal took third at 103. Luke Davis (119), Chris Hare (130) and Byron Cavenaugh (145) also received bronze medals.
"J.D. did a great job and is an overachiever," said Edmundson. "I was proud of his effort. Olivia, in both of her tournaments, has lost to the eventual champion and that speaks volumes about her.
"It was definitely good tough competition, but that's what we wanted to have. That's why we invite the good teams (each year)."
Conference rivals Spring Creek and Princeton ended up 13th and 17th, respectively.
The Gators received individual victories from Matt Richter (119), Paul Richter (145), Dequan Wright (160), Ross Montifia (171) and heavyweight Dwight Strickland.
Matt Blackwell (160), Tyler Baker (171), Daniel Gurley (189) and heavyweight Jonathan Hartley each claimed either one or two individual wins for the Bulldogs.
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