Prep Wrestling: North Rowan wins second straight county tournament
By Ryan Bisesi
SPENCER — Despite having four starters off the mat, North Rowan celebrated its second straight Rowan County wrestling title Saturday at its home gym. The Cavaliers collected six county champions, three more than runnerup West Rowan, to finish with 215 points.
“Today really showed how good our team is,” North coach Tim Pittman said. “I really want to emphasize the word ‘team.’ We had some younger kids in the lineup that don’t normally start. They stepped up.”
North was missing four regulars who were out due to violating team rules. Entering the championship round, North held a 169.5-163 advantage against the Falcons. After six first-place winners and a quartet of runnerups, North pulled away from West, who finished with 179 points.
“Our guys are working hard and it shows out there,” Pittman said.
The Cavs (9-3) reached the state 1A final last season and are resuming that momentum to a strong start again this year with a No. 2 ranking in the state. Their losses have come to 4A strongholds Mooresville, Pinecrest and Davie. This season, the Cavs have a deep bench to prepare them for the stretch run.
“We’ve got depth this year and we didn’t have that last year,” Pittman said. “We’ve got a full jayvee team which gives us the opportunity to mix up the lineup a little bit.”
North’s Will Robertson ended the day by pinning West’s Trey Shepherd in the 285-pound weight class. Shepherd defeated the 6-foot-3, 245-pound Robertson for the county title last year.
“I’ve been looking forward to that since last year,” Roberston said. “I was just giving it everything I’ve got to put him on his back.”
“We kind of anticipated a Trey and Will rematch tonight,” Pittman said.
North’s Brandon Lemmon (138) pinned West Rowan’s Jack Burnside and Salisbury’s Raylon Coleman for a first-place finish. Josh Mock (152), Thomas Fowler (170) and Xavier Robinson (182) all won their classes for North.
“I was looking for a pin at first but I just wore him down and got my points,” said Robinson, who beat Carson’s Nathan Hill 8-7. “He was good up top so I just took him down.”
Mock pinned West’s Cody McIntyre and Fowler pinned West’s Cody Eggers for their championships.
The Falcons earned second place, thanks to champions Jaymes Fairbanks (132), Walt Waggoner (145) and Tacoma McNeely (160).
Fairbanks defeated Salisbury’s D’Andrea Hunter 5-2 while Waggoner pinned North’s Parker Smith in the final. McNeely pinned East Rowan’s Shiheem Saunders for a gold medal.
East’s Mark Almeida was named Most Valuable Wrestler after winning the 126-pound class. Almeida won by an 11-3 decision against North’s Giancarlo Solorzano. East was third in the team standings with 98 points.
The Cavs finished with four second-place medals with Solorzano, Smith, Simon Connolly (106) and Eugene Coney (195).
“Coney’s been on the basketball team his freshman and sophomore years,” Pittman said. “He made the basketball team this year but he wasn’t going to get much playing time. Coach Andrew Mitchell and I talked and decided he’d help us more than the basketball team. Here he is today, wrestling up two classes and finishing second.”
“This year we’ve been practicing a lot harder,” Robertson said. “We’ve got more guys out here so we have a pretty good team. I think there’s definitely the potential to get back to where we were last year.”
Carson’s Anthony McCurry (195) and Alex Lyles (220) won gold medals with pins for the Cougars, who finished fourth with 90 points. Salisbury (72) was fifth and South Rowan (61) sixth.
South Rowan captured the two lightest weights thanks to Logan Durham (106) and Jonathan Ruiz (113).