Pats' Brown Claims Regional Title
When the whistle blew at the end of the 119-pound champion's bout of the East 4-A Regional, Kevin Brown was right where he wanted to be -- ahead on points with a regional championship medal and a ticket to the state tournament in his pocket.
After two nip-and-tuck battles earlier this season with Scotland's Bradley Stewart that had been decided by a total of only three points, it was Brown's turn to claim victory, this time with a 9-8 decision that clinched the regional title and earned the Pinecrest senior a No. 1 seed in the state competition.
Brown, a three-seed in the regional, blazed a trail to the finals with pins against Nelson Galarga of Pine Forest and Nicholas Smith of Cape Fear, along with a 20-12 major decision over second-seeded Alex Lee of Holly Springs.
Zane Excell scored a 13-4 major decision over Smithfield-Selma's Christopher Durand to take third place in the 125-pound weight class, securing a state qualifier spot in the big show for the Patriot sophomore.
Excell, seeded fifth going into the tournament, stated his position early when he pinned Jake Reinemund of Holly Springs in 1:19 in the opening round.
A 2-0 decision over Cape Fear's Brock Stewart advanced Excell into the semifinal round where he took a detour into the consolation bracket after suffering a 7-3 loss to Jack Britt's Josh Bolduc.
Excell bounced back and stuck E.E. Smith's Demalcom Lougin in less than a minute to move into the final round.
The tournament was the swan song for the season for other Patriot grapplers. Sam Ransdell suffered an upset loss in the 119 weight division, falling to Jack Britt's Kyle Daniel in a 10-7 decision in the championship quarter finals before being eliminated by Laney's Jacob Martin in the consolation semifinals on a 5-2 decision.
Mike Evans reached the 20-win milestone with an 8-5 decision over Cape Fear's Marquie Morrisey-Adams in consolation at 160 before the door closed on his senior season with a 7-4 loss to Southeast Raleigh's Kyle Swartz.
Patriot sophomores got an initiation into regional competition, gaining a taste of what they can expect in the coming seasons. Blake Trail (189 pounds) and Daniel Keith (215) went 1-2 before falling from contention, while Jordan Manusov (103) and Justin Crawford (130) took early exits with 0-2 performances.
Ben Sizer (145) drew tournament Most Outstanding Wrestler and regional champ Frank Hickman in the first round, setting him on a bumpy road to an 0-2 finish.
Brown and Excell will be back on the mat Friday morning in the first round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Individual State Championship Tournament, where they will take the next steps in the quest for state titles.
Excell enters the competition with a 41-12 record where he will square off against Mideast two seed, Colton Serrilli of East Forsyth. Brown, now 44-6 overall, faces the West Region fourth seed, B.J. Tomlin of East Burke, in his first match.
The East Regional, largest of the 4-A regions with 27 schools, matched wrestlers from the Greater Neuse River, Mideast, Two Rivers and Mid-Southeastern conferences. West Johnston won the team title with 141.5 points, followed by Wilmington Laney with 136 points and Seventy-First with 115.50. Pinecrest finished with 60 team points.
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