Prep Wrestling: Slow start hurts North Rowan in 1A championship match against West Wilkes
By Ryan Bisesirbisesi@salisburypost.com
MILLERS CREEK — In the end, West Wilkes was too powerful for North Rowan.
Just like 2011, West was the only one that could solve the Cavalier puzzle.
They were stout enough to win their fourth-straight state 1A dual team championship in a 41-25 victory on their home mat.
“Bottom line was, West Wilkes wanted it and we didn’t,” North coach Tim Pittman said. “Their average kids could beat some of our studs. It boils down to which programs do it the right way.”
The Cavs, runnersup to West for the second time in three years, dropped the first three bouts and never recovered from the intial Blackhawk burst. It was only the third loss for North in 30 starts.
“We came out flat,” Pittman said. “I’m not happy with myself or my team about it. We have to regroup and get ready for the regionals.”
North finished the year 27-2 with impressive wins against Pinecrest, Davie County and Mooresville. After its season creshendoed Thursday by dominating Goldsboro Rosewood, the fall back down to earth was just as impactful.
“This just wasn’t our night,” North’s Jacob Broughton said. “When I first woke up this morning the first thing I thought of was the state championship. Everybody had it on their mind.”
North took an early blow in the 145-pound clash when Drew Sturgill got a reversal and a near fall in the closing seconds to edge Broughton 14-13. Defending state champ Jorge Lima defeated Absalom Patterson 16-3 and West was up 10-0 early.
“We gave up a couple matches when we were winning with short time left,” Pittman said. “In dual team wrestling anything can happen.”
Braxton Rabon’s 1-minute pin of Austin Ashley gave the Cavs a temporary jolt. West’s Joshua Kilby provided an answer with a 13-4 win against Trae Clark, who was disqualified after being called for stalling four times.
A 19-6 deficit stared North in the face halfway into the match. Xavier Robinson carried a 11-7 lead going into the final two minutes of the 195-pound bout. Cole Shumate wore down Robinson and pinned him with 22 seconds remaining for a pivotal swing.
“He just got the momentum,” Robinson said. “I had him but he stuck with me. He wanted it harder than I wanted it.”
Cecil McCauley won the 220-pound match 11-2 and North was still in it down 25-10. In a matchup of the top two heavyweight wrestlers in 1A, North trotted out the always-reliable Will Roberton. Eithen Sheets pinned defending state champ Robertson 16 seconds into action for the surprise of the night. Sheets and Lima were named co-MVPs of the match.
“Eithen’s one of the most improved kids I’ve had,” West coach Brian Brown said of his first-year starter. “People might say it’s a fluke but I’m not sure it was. He’s beaten some really good guys.”
State champion Marc Gonzalez pinned pinned Justin Jones and Jaleel Hitchins topped Justin St. Germain 2-1 in the final match.
The first fight saw state qualifer Brandon Lemmon fall to West’s Dustin Hoffman 7-2 with Hoffman getting a pair of near falls late. Jake St. Germain finished the Blackhawks’ scoring with a pin of Darrell Taylor.
“There were a lot of matches that could have gone either way,” Brown said. “Studying it, I thought it was going to be a close match. I’m glad we don’t have to do it again.”
•NOTE: The individual regional begins Feb. 22 with the state championships being Feb. 28. Gonzalez and Robertson will get a chance to defend last year’s crowns.