02/20/07 — Area wrestlers go for gold

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Area wrestlers go for gold

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 20, 2007 2:12 PM

The tradition continues.

Wrestling programs in the News-Argus coverage area will be well-represented when the season-ending N.C. High School Athletic Association Individual Championships take place this weekend in Winston-Salem.

A total of 21 competitors, including seven regional champions, will grapple for gold during the two-day event at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Opening-round matches begin at 9 a.m. Friday.

Wayne County rivals Charles B. Aycock, Eastern Wayne and Southern Wayne dominated the Class 3-A eastern regional contested in Winterville, and finished 2-3-4 -- respectively -- in the team competition. The three perennial powers combined for six regional titles and 15 medals.

"We improved in almost every area from last year, with the exception of the team score," said Aycock head coach Kevin Smith. "We scored more points, had more regional champions and had more qualifiers (for our program)."

Eastern Wayne junior Chris Tesar (45-2 overall) continued building up his impressive high school resume. He became the first three-time regional winner in Warriors history with a 14-0 pasting of Havelock's Comaldy Becton in the 119-pound final.

The Warriors' A.J. Washington (130 pounds) and Detori Mitchell (140) each settled for silver medals in their respective weight classes. Senior Brandon Johnson took third at 215 and senior Brian Lincoln wound up fourth at 152 pounds.

The Golden Falcons' Ngu Tran (125) emerged a regional champ for the second consecutive year with a 5-1 decision over Jacksonville's Adam Justice. The top-seeded Tran improved to 47-3 this season.

Teammates Bryant Lancaster (145) and Khiry Reid (285) earned their first-ever regional crowns. Lancaster turned back Washington's Rodney Putnam 14-6 and Reid edged rival Josh Robinson of Southern Wayne 6-2 in overtime. Reid, a first-year wrestler and first-time regional participant, upended two returning state placers to make the finals.

"Ngu's first two matches didn't get out of the first period and his semifinals match was technically perfect," said Smith. "Ngu looked as focus as I h ave seen him in a long time. Bryant looked sharp all weekend and I really felt like he was in control of every single minute of his matches.

"Without a doubt, heavyweight was one of the toughest weight classes at the regional this year. Khiry really wrestled a completely-flawless weekend."

Ronald Lynn added his name to a long list of four-time state qualifiers in Aycock history. Lynn made an uncharacteristic mistake in the third period and dropped an 8-5 decision to D.H. Conley's Cory Sly in the 135-pound championship match.

Josh Overton, Steve Bentley and Jarrett Covar are headed to Winston-Salem for the first time in their careers. Covar finished second at 215 pounds, while Overton (140) and Bentley (160) each captured third place.

"Many of our kids picked a super weekend to put together our best wrestling performance of the season," said Smith. "We had our best week of practice last week, and I really think it showed this weekend.

"The kids are learning that a lot of hard work will always find a way to pay off."

Southern Wayne senior Doogie Niemond claimed the 112-pound title with a 4-0 conquest of Jacksonville's Jonathan Langholz. Teammate Josh Richards nipped the Warriors' Mitchell 6-4 in the 140-pound final.

Also qualifying for the Saints were Tristan Bass (third at 135), Eric Futrell (third at 145) and John Futrell (fourth at 160).

On the 1-A/2-A scene at Croatan, Rosewood senior Jim Bish finished second and Chris Hare emerged a regional champion at 130 pounds. Princeton heavyweight Jon Hartley placed third overall.

Editor's note: Complete team results and top-four finishers in each weight class for 3-A and 1-A/2-A can be found at www.ncmat.com.