Prep Wrestling Playoffs: North Rowan falls in sectional final
By Ryan Bisesi
SPENCER — As tough as the North Rowan wrestlers have been this season, their hearts got a similar version of cauliflower ear in the opening rounds of the dual-team state playoffs.
North experienced the gamut of emotions Tuesday night. There was euphoria after three straight pins to win the first playoff match against Monroe Central Academy. There was tension during a neck-and-neck battle with Ayden-Grifton. And then there was dejection after a tiebreaker ruling ended its season.
Moments after a comeback victory vaulted them into the sectional final, North ended its bout with A-G tied at 36. The officials gathered at the scorers’ table and pulled out the NCHSAA rulebook stating both teams’ fate.
Ayden-Grifton won eight matches to North’s six, handing the Chargers an extra point and a trip to the regional final in a 37-36 decision.
The Cavs, state 1A finalists last year, and ranked second coming into Tuesday, were eliminated and ended the year 30-7.
“We went out there thinking we could beat them like we did last year,” North’s A. J. Chambers said. “Ayden-Grifton’s a totally different team.”
North held a 30-12 lead against A-G before the Chargers reeled off three straight pins to knot the score. Thomas Fowler pinned Jorge Martinez in the second period of the 170-pound class to pull North ahead 36-33 with one bout left. AG’s Diego Martinez (182) won 3-1 against Xavier Robinson to tie the score in the final match.
“The bottom line was they got the pins and we didn’t,” North coach Tim Pittman said. “They’re well-conditioned, well-coached and they wanted it more tonight.”
Ayden (38-4) returned the favor to North, who beat them last year on their home turf in the playoffs. The Chargers had beaten Southwest Onslow 50-30 in their first round meet.
“I thought if we kept grinding and get them into the third period, we’d be OK,” AG coach Jeff Wooten said. “I hate it ended like that, but for us, it was good.”
The Cavs built an 18-12 edge against Ayden with pins from Will Robertson (285), Marc Gonzalez (106) and Giancarlo Solorzano (120). Tyler Powers (126) pinned Naisir Daniels in 32 seconds and Damon Ellis (132) pinned Carter Craft in 1:52 to put North up by 18 points with six matches left.
“Anytime you’re up 30-12, you feel good,” Pittman said.
A-G’s Deshawn Cooper (138), Dannie Webb (145) and Jacob Baker (152) earned pins in succession to knot it at 30.
Against Central, North fell behind 33-18 after dropping the 145-pound match to an injury default by Thomas Tucker. Josh Mock (152), Chambers (160) and Fowler all earned pins in the last three matches in a spirited rally. Fowler downed John Newman in just 31 seconds after Chambers topped Harvey Harris in 45 seconds to claim a 36-33 win for the Cavs.
“I don’t know how to describe it,” Fowler said. “That was great.”
Pittman hopes as many as 14 of his guys qualify for the individual state tournament.
“We’re just going to regroup and go after that individual state tournament,” Pittman said.