02/10/10 — Golden Falcons eliminated

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Golden Falcons eliminated

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 10, 2010 1:46 PM

PIKEVILLE -- Success is not final and failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.

Winston Churchill's famed quote undoubtedly describes Charles B. Aycock's tenuous season on the wrestling mat. The Golden Falcons toiled through injuries, battled inexperience and looked for leadership from just three returning starters.

Once the pieces were in place, Aycock enjoyed a phenomenal campaign that ended Tuesday evening in the 2010 N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A dual-team playoffs. The Golden Falcons bounced Rocky Mount 48-19, which gave them their first opening-round win since 2007. Three-time East runner-up Havelock eliminated Aycock, 72-3, in the night's final match.

Misty-eyed and staring at his scoresheets, first-year Golden Falcons coach Marc Peck said he couldn't have been more proud of his team's effort. A lineup rich with first-year starters matured and started to peak in dual-team form in mid-January.

Aycock (18-8 overall) competed against Rocky Mount and Havelock with three injured starters -- Kaleb Robinson (shoulder), Nick Simmons (shoulder) and Preston Tucker (knee). David Romo sustained a concussion in practice Monday and did not wrestle. Khaleil Owens strained his right hamstring before the Havelock match.

Still, the Golden Falcons worked through the adversity.

Zeb Darden (135 pounds), Jordan Lee (145) and Owens (152) each recorded a decision against their respective Rocky Mount opponent. Simmons' forfeit at 160 and Jon Rudolph's second-period fall over Jeffrey Henderson at 189 boosted the Golden Falcons' match advantage to 21-10.

"I was proud of the team against Rocky Mount," said Peck. "We started out strong, got a lead and didn't look back. The key win, in my estimation, was 152 where we sent a freshman out there (Owens) and he won a big match.

"That put a little fire under us."

The Gryphons pulled within 24-13, but could get no closer. Golden Falcons heavyweight Jarrod James started a match-ending, 24-6 run with a 2-1 decision over Jemor Parker.

David and Daniel Romo, and Justin Farrell each drew a forfeit. Preston Tucker pinned the Gryphons' Nick Westcott as time expired in the opening period, which sealed the outcome.

Rocky Mount (13-11) tallied the initial takedown in six of eight contested matches, but Aycock tilted most of those bouts in its favor in either the second or third period.

"We have a lot of young kids on the team, so they were probably going out maybe a little cautious," said Peck. "Once they settled in and got a few matches under their belt, we got on a roll."

Havelock, however, controlled the tempo against Aycock.

The Rams (27-1) strolled to a 28-0 lead after the first five consecutive individual bouts. Rudolph outlasted T.J. Godette 7-4 and claimed the Golden Falcons' lone win.

Havelock captured the last eight matches, including a sudden-death overtime victory by Zach Miller over James at heavyweight. Miller gave up 64 pounds against the taller James, but scored the match-clinching escape five seconds into the third OT.

Aycock surrendered forfeits at 112 and 119 pounds. Peck elected not to wrestle the 119-pound Farrell against Christian Holleman. The two are expected to meet each other for the eastern regional title in next week's individual tournament at South Central.

The Rams scored the initial takedown in all 12 contested matches and started several periods in either the "standing" or "neutral" position. They collected 22 takedowns overall against the Golden Falcons.

"We're a takedown team, that's what we do," said Havelock head coach Ed Cruz. "If we can't turn a guy in 15 or 20 seconds, we're going to stay on our feet. We spend a lot of time in practice on our feet and that's where we're comfortable ... confident there."