Cougar grapplers nearly pull off first win
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on December 1, 2010 1:47 PM
A boisterous crowd in a sweltering, cracker box-style gymnasium witnessed one historical moment -- and almost a second -- at Wayne Academy on Tuesday evening.
Goldsboro High played host to its first dual wrestling match in 15 years, and nearly treated its fans to a long-awaited victory. But South Lenoir triumphed in the final two individual bouts and escaped with a come-from-behind, 39-36 decision.
The teams battled through one tie and five lead changes.
The Blue Devils (1-0 overall) seized a 21-12 team advantage when 171-pounder Eddie Hawkins pinned the Cougars' Maurice Yelverton in the opening period.
Senior 189-pounder Maurice Crim earned his first-ever victory with a first-period fall over South Lenoir's Zack Mitchell. Fellow senior Jose Arias controlled the Blue Devils' Kyle Herring from the opening whistle at 215 pounds and scored a first-period pin with just seconds remaining.
"Our heavier weights were solid," said first-year Goldsboro head coach Jim Phillips. "Jose has really come forward as a leader and captain on this team, and that's something we need. With the addition of some football players this week, who knows, we might even be looking two or three people deep at that position.
"I want to see Jose keep it, I really do. But some of these boys from the football team want to take it from him, too."
Heavyweight Elijah Slater capped the Cougars' late-match, 18-0 run with a forfeit.
South Lenoir 112-pounder Cam Green, a returning state qualifier, collected a first-period fall. Goldsboro's Rasheid Malette, a freshman, improved to 2-0 this season with a pin at 119 pounds.
The Cougars led 36-27 at that point.
"I was hoping one of the two (remaining kids) would win and I knew the chances were pretty slim with the experienced wrestlers they had to face," said Phillips. "But, I'll tell you what, right down to the last minute, I think both wrestlers had a chance to win. Nobody gave up."
The Blue Devils' Adan Covarrubias (125 pounds) and Zack Baker (130) sealed the comeback win with back-to-back pins. Overall, South Lenoir earned the initial takedown in eight matches and had the Cougars fighting off their backs most of the night.
"I think the guys, when they get in trouble, they don't know what to do," said Phillips. "I think they're focused on how to get off their back, but I think we need to focus on how to keep from getting on our back in the first place."
Goldsboro's Kevin Taylor (135) and freshman 152-pounder Darrell Smithers, who joined the team on Monday, also claimed an individual win.