Pinecrest Dishes Out Senior Night Thrashing
Pinecrest's wrestling team moved within a win of sweeping the Southeastern 4A Conference Wednesday with a 69-3 drubbing of visiting Richmond on Senior Night.
Four seniors - Zane Excell, Daniel Kieth, Grey Tampa and Eric Soles-Moore - were honored prior to the match, in which the home team won 13 of 14 individual matches, including six by pin.
Now the Patriots have a chance to move to 5-0 in league matches and win a conference title for the first time since 2006 when they travel to Hoke next Wednesday.
"I've said it all year long - we're just kind of a young group of kids," coach Travis Flinchum said. "We have competitive wrestle-offs every Monday, where somebody's just itching to get in the varsity spot. So in a way it is a surprise for us to be here, being so young, but in a way it's not."
Excell, ranked third at 140 pounds in the 4A individual rankings posted on retrorankings.com, said he's not surprised by the team's showing, and he doubts his teammates are either.
"I think we were expecting to do pretty well this year," he said. "We've got a couple of seniors wrestling on the team this year. We've got a lot of good guys coming up who are freshmen and sophomores. I think we were planning on doing about this well. I'm just really excited that we're one win away from completely taking over this region."
Excell won a grinding 5-2 decision over Richmond's Wesley Mason at 145 pounds to improve to 17-2 on the season.
After the match, he talked about not his 17 wins, but his two losses.
"I lost a couple of tough matches at a really big tournament, the Tiger Classic, which is about as big as the states," he said. "I wouldn't see those guys again till probably the states."
Among the early highlights of the match, which started at 103 pounds, freshman Cody Fitzgerald picked up his first win of the season by pinning Richmond's Randal Autman in 1:19 at 112 pounds, and sophomore Garrett Bateman logged his 20th win by pinning Jamar Goins in 43 seconds at 130 pounds.
Junior Nathan Frederique wasted little time with Jacob Staubb, pinning the Raider 160-pounder in 20 seconds to improve to 19-6 on the season, and Pinecrest won the last three matches by pinfall.
It started with Soles-Moore, who recently transferred from Dixon, picking up his first win with a pin of Travis Butler in 44 seconds at 189 pounds.
"It feels great to win, I'm not going to lie," he said. "I've trained all season long trying to get to this point, and it finally paid off. I'm hoping to continue my streak."
Keith took an 11-1 lead at the end of the first period and pinned Lucas Newton 53 seconds into the second period while leading 14-1. The senior improved to 12-4 on the season with the win.
Trinity Odums capped things by pinning Jordan Speight in 1:25 in the heavyweight match, but the night wasn't quite over.
Tampa, the lone senior who didn't wrestle, as he was unopposed at 135 pounds, wrestled a Pinecrest JV wrestler in exhibition in the final match of the night. He won a 4-2 decision.
"Zane, Daniel, those guys have been wrestling all four years," said Flinchum. "Gray, he's only been with us two years, but he's show a lot of leadership. I think he's taken a lot from wrestling and given a lot to the guys in wrestling."
In one of the more exciting matches of the night, Hawk George erased a 6-3 deficit in the final 20 seconds of the 171-pound match to win an 8-7 decision over Richmond's Justin Flores. Other results included Michael Lippincott winning a 16-0 tech fall at 119 pounds and Clem McKenzie winning an 11-3 major decision at 125 pounds.
Richmond, which fell to 1-3 in the conference, picked up its lone win at 152 pounds, where Antoine Bostick took a 5-3 decision over Jonathan Thorton. The Raiders forfeited three weight classes.
After the match, Pinecrest's attention turned to Hoke, a squad Flinchum said he didn't know much about.
"Most of the time they have 14 kids ready to win," he said. "We're always expecting to go in there and win. Nobody likes to lose. But we know that anybody can knock you off your high horse."
Soles-Moore says he's sure his Pinecrest team can finish the regular season on a high note.
"We all work hard and train hard and prep hard every day," he said. "I'm not saying they don't, but we probably train harder."
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