01/13/08 — 12 in a row: Rosewood grapplers rule league again

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12 in a row: Rosewood grapplers rule league again

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 13, 2008 3:23 AM

Each of the past 11 seasons, Rosewood's senior class has exited the Class 1-A Carolina/Albemarle regular-season, dual-team wrestling champion.

Make that 12 in a row.

The Eagles logged a 5-0 worksheet during Saturday's day-long, dual tournament on their home mat. Once the team broke the huddle after the final individual bout had concluded, seniors J.D. Davis and J.P. Person hoisted head coach Bill Edmundson onto their shoulders. The duo took him on a victory lap as the Rosewood faithful roared their approval.

"I've never, ever been picked up like that before in my life," said a laughing Edmundson, who started the program from scratch in the early 1990s. "We knew there was a lot on the line today."

And this season.

Less than two weeks ago, the Eagles owned an 8-8 record and Edmundson wondered if the returning talent would challenge for another league championship. He got his answer during last weekend's Pilkington Duals and the momentum carried over into the conference tournament.

Rosewood (19-9 overall) faced its strongest competitor, North Johnston, in the morning round.

"We had been scouting them out, but hadn't seen them all year," said Edmundson. "We thought it was going to be a little bit tougher match. We were mentally prepared for them and drilled specifically for the way they wrestle.

"They came out fired up ... intense from the get-go."

Jon Rudolph set the tempo with a come-from-behind, 13-10 decision over Colt Burns at 171 pounds. Burns owned a comfortable 8-4 lead after two periods, but began making critical mistakes in the final two minutes.

Once Rudolph escaped Burns' hold, he quickly took Burns to the mat and rolled him into his back. Burns reversed his misfortune, but Rudolph escaped for the decision.

Rudolph's victory started a 33-4 run.

After the Panthers prevailed at 189 pounds, the Eagles reeled off five straight wins. Heavyweight Trevor Morris, 103-pounder Olivia Neal and 112-pounder Kelly Cosgrove each received a forfeit. Ariel Nacca capped the surge with a first-period fall over Hayden Peedin.

The teams wrestled evenly from that point, but North Johnston (15-9) could never establish any momentum. The Panthers won four of the final seven contested matches as Rosewood recorded a 51-27 team win.

Rosewood stopped border rival Princeton 45-28 in its second match. The Eagles grabbed a commanding 45-18 advantage before the Bulldogs rallied to take the final three individual bouts.

Archrival Spring Creek became the Eagles' next victim.

The Eagles, again, bolted to an early lead -- this time 34-6. The Gators (4-7) climbed within 39-24 on Sebastian Jackson's second-period fall over Jacob Roberts at 152 pounds, but could get no closer.

Andrew Sass (160) and Rudolph posted back-to-back wins as Spring Creek suffered its second dual defeat of the day.

"Spring Creek matches up with us very well," said Edmundson. "Their strengths are in places where some of ours are not. It's a give-and-take thing. But I was happy with the matchups we got."

Rosewood polished off its 12th consecutive regular-season crown with decisions over league newcomer Ayden-Grifton (64-18) and short-handed Manteo (72-12).

Overall, the Eagles prevailed in 32 individual matches and posted 27 falls -- including nine against Ayden-Grifton -- against their opposition. Edmundson's team benefited from 17 forfeits, an average of 3.4 per match.

Regardless, Rosewood clinched the No. 1 seed for the N.C. High School Athletic Association dual-team playoffs, which begin Feb. 5. The Eagles face the Coastal Plains Conference champion in the opening round.

"This group didn't want to be the team to discontinue the conference champion (streak)," said Edmundson. "That's been our goal all year ... a good motivating factor."

North Johnston is the No. 2 seed, much to the dismay of Gators head coach Dwight Glenn. After the Gators lost to Rosewood, they struggled to defeat Manteo and ended the day with a setback against the Panthers.

"We should have finished in second place," said Glenn. "We've got a better team than what we showed out there. We made bad moves at the wrong time and that hurt us.

"A couple of people I thought should have won for us didn't against North Johnston. We're a better squad and still trying to round that corner right now."

Princeton (12-10) stopped Manteo and ended the day with a come-from-behind win over Ayden-Grifton. Heavyweight Matt Stewart capped the 39-38 decision with a first-period fall over the Chargers' Lemarcus Carmen.