Focused Golden Falcons successfully defend title
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 6, 2012 1:48 PM
CLAYTON -- Khaleil Owens joined an elite group.
Teammate Preston Tucker is knocking on the door to do the same.
Meanwhile, Charles B. Aycock denied Cleveland the conference "sweep."
Owens grabbed the Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference wrestler-of-the-year award and the Golden Falcons successfully defended their tournament crown Saturday afternoon in Cleveland's gym.
Aycock had seven individual champions and 13 grapplers placed among the top three in their respective weight classes. The impressive effort generated a whopping 268 points -- 39 more than Cleveland, which dethroned the Golden Falcons as the ECC dual-team king nearly a month ago.
Eastern Wayne, powered by ECC champs Austin Helm and Blake Terrell, ended up third in the six-team competition with 140 points. Triton took fourth with 115 points, followed by Southern Wayne (37) and South Johnston (32).
"It was a great day," proclaimed CBA head coach Marc Peck. "Winning seven weight classes and placing in all definitely exceeded our expectations going in. I mentioned earlier in the season that this was a special group of young men. Today they proved it."
Owens (41-6 overall) started his day with a nail-biting, 3-2 decision over Triton's William Wright in the 160-pound weight class. He scored a second-period fall over Cleveland's Shane Pilkington, and easily handled Eastern Wayne's Quadrick Williams 12-4 to secure his place among Golden Falcon lore.
A junior and returning state qualifier, Owens became the ninth Aycock grappler to earn wrestler-of-the-year accolades in program history. He carries a 15-match win streak into the N.C. High School Athletic Association dual-team playoffs which begin Tuesday.
"We're real proud of Khaleil," said Peck. "I think he beat (Cleveland's Holden) Bohannon by two points (for wrestler-of-the-year)."
Preston Tucker repeated as an ECC champion, winning the 145-pound division and ending the day with 99 career wins. Tucker easily handled Cleveland's Josh Williams 12-3, and pinned Southern Wayne's Daquan Dickens in 12 seconds during the gold-medal match.
Teammates David Romo and Daniel Romo also emerged as two-time ECC champions in their respective careers. David, the 2011 ECC wrestler-of-the-year, seized the gold medal in 126-pound action. Daniel secured the 132-pound crown.
Aycock's Zack Howard (106 pounds), Jordan Bailey (120) and Charlie Mills (138) each became a first-time ECC champion. Nick Jones (112), Jaquan Walker (152) and Jorge Flores (220) were runners-up in their respective weight classes. Devin Best (170) and heavyweight Bradley Fisher each placed third, while Broc Doyle took fourth at 182.
"They just took care of business," said Peck.
Helm picked up a "three-peat" for the Warriors.
The 152-pounder avenged a disheartening senior night loss and upended a county rival to grab his third consecutive ECC crown.
Just four days ago, Helm appeared to have Cleveland's Alex Pilkington in a pin combination, but made one slight error in judgment. The mistake led to a "defensive" pin for Pilkington.
"I mainly wanted to go out there and show that what happened on my senior night was a fluke," said Helm, who has 108 career wins. "I just wanted to be solid and wrestle my match. It was a good day. I'm feeling good and looking forward to regionals."
Helm defeated Aycock's Walker for the 152-pound gold medal.
Terrell, like his teammate, sought revenge.
Two weeks ago, Southern Wayne's Deonta Hayes pinned Terrell in the second period. Terrell used that disappointing loss as fuel to a gold-medal run that ended with a 53-second fall over Hayes in the title tilt.
"The match had been on my mind the last weeks," said Terrell. "I was on a mission not to lose to him again. With it being my senior year and not having won a gold medal yet, it was time to do it.
"It was the best feeling."
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