12/12/08 — Eagles will host county's longest-running tourney

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Eagles will host county's longest-running tourney

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on December 12, 2008 1:46 PM

During his career at Rosewood High School, wrestling coach Bill Edmundson has never been shy about fueling the fire of expectations.

A bright purple banner hanging in the gymnasium displays the program's domination under Edmundson's guidance for nearly two decades. Plaques line the trophy case and former team members' photos, including their accomplishments, cover the walls in the wrestling room.

But Edmundson's patience got tested last week.

The Eagles finished an uncharacteristic 12th in the Pierce-Davis Memorial and had just two wrestlers reach the championship round.

"I think it was a culture shock for the older wrestlers and definitely for the coaching staff to see our names near the bottom of that tournament," said Edmundson. "That's highly unusual for our team. Our practices (since) have been much more intense and focused."

That's a good thing because another stern challenge awaits the youngest team Edmundson has put on the mat in the past 10 years.

Rosewood will play host to the 13th annual Eagle Invitational, the longest-running individual tournament in Wayne County, on Saturday. The 20-team field begins competition at approximately 9 a.m. and admission is $5.

"The Eagle has turned into one of the biggest one-day individual tournaments in the East," said Edmundson, who said 20 teams returned confirmations to participate last May. "(The teams) represent all divisions in North Carolina and will feature many returning state qualifiers. I think the hospitality room our parents put on brings the coaches back as much -- or moreso -- than the competition.

"We have fantastic parents who come together to make this happen unlike any other tournament we attend."

The cross-section of schools competing include eight programs which qualified for the N.C. High School Athletic Association dual-team playoffs in 2008. Included among the mix is two-time defending Eagle Invitational champion Charles B. Aycock.

Brandon Bailey, Bryan Diorio and Justin Farrell -- all returning starters -- have emerged the Golden Falcons' top performers this season. Bailey is the reigning Eagle Invitational title-holder at 130 pounds, while Diorio tied for third at 215 a year ago.

Also back are Rosewood senior Joshua Holmes, who has won two individual tournaments this season; and Zach Behrend, who won the 119-pound title at the Pierce-Davis last weekend.

Southern Wayne's Dustin Richards (10-2 overall) placed among the top four at 140 pounds a year ago. The Saints' Ryan Gross, a freshman, is expected to contend for gold at 103 pounds.

"This is always an exciting week and our guys know what is at stake," said Edmundson. "We will continue to push our wrestlers to meet and exceed their potential, and we will continue to set attainable goals. Coach (Dan) Miner and I are excited about the possibilities this season."

The proof of Edmundson's confidence -- and passion -- hangs in the gym.