UP Grapplers Dominate Byrd on Senior Night
The Union Pines wrestling team celebrated Senior Night with a 68-9 Cape Fear Valley Conference dual meet victory over Douglas Byrd Wednesday in Cameron.
Vike seniors Jared Bartram, Brandon Berry, Danny Deardorff, Josh McGowan Kelvin Morrison, Seth Owen and Chris Rubinosky were recognized in a ceremony at center mat before the meet at Bob Ward Gymnasium.
After the meet, Union Pines head coach Matt Ragsdale spoke about his group of seniors.
“We definitely have a special group of seniors this season here at U.P.,” Ragsdale said. “Every group of seniors has its own set of qualities, and I am certainly going to miss this group.
“This year’s senior class has truly exemplified our main motto, which is ‘team first, me second.’”
Deardorff and Berry are the only two Viking seniors to have wrestled four years at Union Pines. According to Ragsdale, the pair has been instrumental in Union Pines’ emergence as a state powerhouse in the sport — from the school hallways and classroom, right on down to countless final periods of critical matches.
Berry earned a pin 30 seconds into his 125-pound match Thursday. With the explosive win, he improved to 19-3 on the season and remains the third- ranked 3A wrestler in his weight class by retrorankings.com.
“I am really happy about how things went tonight,” said Berry. “Everyone went out there and did just what they were taught to do. We could not wrestle any better that we did. Now the focus shifts to the postseason. It is something we have worked toward since last year, and I am looking forward to it very much.
“Also, I would like to take the time to thank coach (Chris) Vondruska. He has been a big help over my career and has just really been there for me. It is nice to have someone you know that is always going to be there and teach me. He has taught me so many new things that have helped me beat kids I probably never would have beaten if I had not learned from him.”
Vondruska was named the North Carolina 3A assistant coach of the year by the National Wrestling Coaches Association last season.
In Thursday’s 145-pound match, Deardorff wrestled up five pounds from his usual position in the Viking lineup. Apparently the weight increase was not an issue as he earned a victory via pinfall early in the first period. He is now 28-5 on the season and is the sixth-ranked 140-pound 3A wrestler.
The night was a time of reflection for Deardorff, who is a two-time tournament winner this season, with first-place finishes at Tiger Holiday Classic and the Sarah Wilkes Invitational. After the match, amid a cluster of fans, teammates and family, he beckoned back to his humble beginnings as a Union Pines Viking freshman wrestler.
“It’s been quite a while since my first season, when I missed qualifying for the state tournament by a match,” said Deardorff. “After making it to states the next two seasons, this year I am really starting to get the feel of actually wrestling. I have really pushed myself this season to conquer my goal to be a state champions wrestling in the room with coach Vondruska.”
With the victory, Union Pines improved to 10-0 on the season and finished its CFVC campaign with an undefeated mark of 6-0 to claim the school’s fourth regular season league crown in six years.
Currently the Vikings are the top-rated 3A tournament team, according to retrorankings.com, and are the third-ranked team in the 3A coaches’ dual team poll.
Union Pines hosts the individual CFVC tournament Saturday in Cameron, with preliminary matches scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.
Contact F.W. Manning II at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Union Pines 68, Douglas Byrd 9
103: Chris Sheppard, DB, dec over Darrell Utt 9-7; 112: Billy Hornbaker, UP, won by forfeit; 119: Philip Mondi, UP, pinned Alec Matos; 125: Berry, UP, pinned Mario Williams; 130: Taylor Walker, UP, won by forfeit; 135: Ryan Hull ,UP, won by forfeit; 140: Rubinosky, UP, pinned Devonte Howard;145: Deardorff, UP, pinned Marcus Wilkins; 152: Kristoff Thomas, DB, pinned Owen; 160: Mike Brennan, UP, major decision over Raymond Garrison 11-3; 171: Jared Bartram, UP, major decision over Jarmarkus Swinson; 189: Kelvin Morrison, UP, pinned Darius Cox; 215: Josh Huskey, UP, won by forfeit; 285: McGowan, UP, won by forfeit.
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