Eastern Wayne wins ECC tournament
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 5, 2007 2:19 PM
Denied victory in its regular-season, dual-team finale against archrival Charles B. Aycock, the Eastern Wayne wrestling team exacted sweet revenge Saturday afternoon.
The Warriors claimed the final three individual matches and emerged the Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference tournament champions. All the cards played out perfectly for Eastern Wayne, which seized a program-best seven gold medals and piled up 199.5 points.
C.B. Aycock had five gold medalists and collected 192 points. Southern Wayne ended up third with 98 points, followed by Wilson Hunt (82) and Wilson Beddingfield (16).
Hunt freshman David High took the 103-pound title and spoiled the Wayne County schools' bid for a second straight sweep of 14 gold medals.
"The bottom line is we got out-wrestled today in a number of weight classes," said Aycock head coach Kevin Smith. "We had some opportunities to win the tournament and we didn't close the deal. That fault has to fall on us and us alone. I thought Eastern Wayne wrestled with a lot of enthusiasm, and won some matches on little more than sheer willpower because sometimes that is all a match turns out to be."
The championship round turned in a mini Warriors-Golden Falcons dual. C.B. Aycock, which had won the previous two ECC tournament crowns, couldn't match Eastern Wayne's intensity nor turn back its desire.
The Warriors triumphed in six of eight head-to-head matches and with each victory, the cheers from the sparse turnout of fans in Aycock's gym grew louder. Brown's team almost pulled off a stunner at 125 pounds when James Knight rolled Golden Falcon senior Ngu Tran onto his back and scored nearfall points late in the first period. But Tran regained his composure and pinned Knight 36 seconds into the second period.
"I won't take anything away from Kevin's kids because they battled hard,"said Eastern Wayne head coach Mike Brown. "After finishing second to them all year long and not ever beating them, I think our kids were hungry for the win. We wanted it a little bit more than they did.
"We stayed focused all week after the loss to them Tuesday night and our goal was to win the conference championship."
The Warriors' championship quest started shakily when top-seeded Drew Tesar got pinned in 49 seconds by Hunt's High. Their misfortune seemed nothing but a distant memory after senior Chris Tesar took the 119-pound championship and 130-pounder A.J. Washington completed a sterling comeback.
C.B. Aycock's Kevin Carmel kept Washington in check through two-plus periods and owned a comfortable 10-5 lead. Time seemed an eternity for Carmel, who appeared to lose his intensity and stamina as the match progressed.
Washington, however, knew time was not an ally. He escaped Carmel's hold as the precious seconds ticked away and earned a penalty point when Carmel was called for stalling. The Warrior grappler - a second-year starter - regained his focus and knew he had few seconds left.
"I kept looking for the guy with the (timer)," said a grinning Washington. "I knew I had to go quick."
The No. 1 seed, Washington pulled off a double-leg takedown and put Carmel on the mat in the final 10 seconds. Carmel struggled and Washington nearly locked him in a cradle, but kept enough pressure with the head and armbar lock. Washington admitted it's a move his coaches requested he'd not execute since he had the tendency to let the opponent's head slip from his grasp.
This time, Washington held firm and scored three nearfall points as time expired for the come-from-behind 12-10 win. A shocked Carmel looked at the final score, gazed toward his coaches and raised his hands in question of why he lost.
"A reserve move," said Washington. "I didn't want to do it, but I had to use it. (Carmel) has gotten better and is a good defensive wrestler. He's got good balance and was strong."
As the individual matches continued, Eastern Wayne and C.B. Aycock exchanged the overall tournament lead five times. The Warriors gained a slim edge in the 152-pound match when senior Brian Lincoln dispatched Josh Grimes 10-0, and avenged a one-point defeat which occurred in Tuesday's dual.
"I was a little less unsure of myself this time," said Lincoln as sweat streamed down his reddened cheeks. "I knew what he was going to do and I knew what I needed to do. The last time was a surprise because I didn't know what to expect.
"That first takedown was real huge; the difference because it gave me some leeway. But I wasn't going to stop after that."
It was Lincoln's first-ever ECC title.
Kyle Harmon supplied Aycock's last individual victory over Eastern Wayne's Brandon Darby. The two traded takedowns and nearfall points before Harmon pinned Darby, a first-year starter, with 18 seconds left in the final period.
Tyler Wicks successfully defended his championship at 189 pounds and teammate Foy Coley, like Lincoln, gained some revenge at 215 pounds. Coley edged Jarrett Covar 3-2 and put the Warriors in prime position for their first-ever conference title - dual-team or individual - in Brown's tenure as head coach.
Senior Brandon Johnson polished off the championship run with a 3-2 conquest of Aycock heavyweight Khiry Reid. Johnson, who celebrated his 18th birthday, received ECC co-wrestler-of-the-year honors along with Aycock senior Bryant Lancaster.
"Moving Brandon to heavyweight was another factor because I don't know if Foy would have won there," said Brown. "That was huge. It was a total team effort and I'm extremely pleased with the boys."
The disappointing defeat turned even more heart-breaking for Aycock, which lost senior Drake Gurley to a season-ending injury. Gurley sustained a dislocated left elbow late in the third period during his 112-pound title bout against Southern Wayne senior Doogie Niemond.
Trailing 1-0, Gurley slipped from Niemond's grip and tried to stand, but Niemond used a legal arm chop to bring Gurley back down. The Aycock grappler screamed in pain when he landed on the mat.
A teary-eyed Niemond stood in shock, and shook Gurley's hand once Smith and his trainers had wrapped the injured arm in a bandage.
In addition to Tran and Harmon, Golden Falcon teammates Ronald Lynn (135 pounds) and Lancaster (145) each conducted a personal tour of revenge against the Saints. Lynn avenged his lone regular-season loss in ECC action with a 3-2 decision over defending conference champion Tristan Bass.
"It's always a close match. I just had to wrestle a little better, smarter match," said the soft-spoken Lynn. "I wanted to beat him, so when it got close, I just grabbed a leg to keep control and keep him from spinning behind me so he didn't get the two (for a reversal)."
Lancaster edged Eric Futrell 4-3 in the fifth meeting of the season between the two grapplers. Lancaster downplayed his ECC title, but added he felt "great" for beating Futrell after losing to him 10 days ago.
"I watched the film (of the loss)," said Lancaster. "I watched from top, bottom and on my feet so I knew what to capitalize on in the match. I knew it was going to be tough and I made sure I didn't give up any backers.
"I am sure I will see him again in regionals, possibly in states. I'll have to beat him to get what I want."
Eastern Wayne fielded a full team and all 14 competitors scored, including 160-pounder Marcus Lewis, who picked up four points despite an 0-2 record. Aycock did not put a 189-pounder on the mat, but had 13 grapplers to record at least a top-three finish in their respective weight classes.
Hunt had the next-highest group of placers with 11, followed by Southern Wayne with 10. The Bruins had three placers.
C.B. Aycock and Eastern Wayne return to action Tuesday in the opening round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association dual-team playoffs. The Golden Falcons (23-1) are expected to host a four-team meet and oppose long-time nemesis West Carteret in the opening round. Wild-card entry Northeast Guilford wrestles Mideastern champion Jacksonville in the other match.
The Warriors (16-5) hit the road for a four-team meet and take on Coastal 8 champion Havelock. Northeastern Coastal champion Currituck County opposes South Central, a wild-card entrant, in the other match. The site had not been determined at press time.
"I think we're peaking at the right time," said Brown.
Note: A team scoring error occurred during the championship round and four points were added to Eastern Wayne's team total once the mistake had been resolved.
Class 3-A Eastern Carolina
(at C.B. Aycock HS, Pikeville)
Eastern Wayne 199.5
C.B. Aycock 192
Southern Wayne 98
Wilson Hunt 82
Wilson Beddingfield 16
103 - David High (H) wbf Drew Tesar (EW), 49 seconds; 112 - Doogie Niemond (SW) inj. def. Drake Gurley (CBA); 119 - Chris Tesar (EW) wbf Joseph Conner, 2:45; 125 - Ngu Tran (CBA) wbf James Knight (EW), 2:36; 130 - A.J. Washington (EW) dec. Kevin Carmel (CBA), 12-10; 135 - Ronald Lynn (CBA) dec. Tristan Bass, 3-2; 140 - Detori Mitchell (EW) dec. Josh Overton (CBA), 3-0; 145 - Bryant Lancaster (CBA) dec. Eric Futrell (SW), 4-3; 152 - Brian Lincoln (EW) maj. dec. Josh Grimes (CBA), 10-0; 160 - Steve Bentley (CBA) wbf John Futrell (SW), 6:59 (OT); 171 - Kyle Harmon (CBA) wbf Brandon Darby (EW), 5:42; 189 - Tyler Wicks (EW) wbf Kenny Herthing (H), 3:52; 215 - Foy Coley (EW) dec. Jarrett Covar (CBA), 3-2; Hwt - Brandon Johnson (EW) dec. Khiry Reid (CBA), 3-2.
Note: Individual champions earn All-Eastern Carolina Conference recognition and runners-up are honorable mention.
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