Patriots Topple Viking Grapplers in County Showdown
The Pinecrest Patriots earned a 45-32 dual team wrestling victory over the Union Pines Vikings Thursday evening in front of an extra large gathering of grappling fans at Bob Ward Gymnasium in Cameron.
With the nonconference, cross-county victory the visiting Pats improved to 4-1 on the season in dual action, while the Vikes fell to 0-2 in dual competition with the rivalry loss.
For Pat seniors Luke Fetla and Mario Contreras the dual team meet win over county rival Union Pines was their second straight in regular-season action. Last year the Patriot powered their way to a 56-19 win in front of their home crowd at James Moore Gymnasium as Pinecrest defeated Union Pines for the first time in dual action since 2005.
“‘The Battle of the Pines’ is always one of our favorite nights,” said Fetla. “At home last year we had a great crowd. Here this year it was a completely different atmosphere — under the lights with the matt lamp, the glow sticks and all the hype. No matter where it is we love wrestling our cross-county rivals because it just gets everybody in the mood to go.”
Fetla took part in the second match of the second half of the dual following a 15-minute halftime where young grapplers from the two local youth programs — the Sandhills Sandcats (Pinecrest’s feeder program) and the Copperheads (Union Pines’ feeder program) wrestling clubs — took center stage on the mat for some wrestling.
After the break Pinecrest’s 220-pounder Gregg Mello secured a quick first-round pin, much to the delight of the jam-packed visitors’ half of the gym as the Patriots grabbed a commanding 34-10 lead. Then Fetla followed suit, promptly scoring a pin just 19 seconds into his match against Greg Reaves to bring the Pinecrest side of the stands screaming and to their feet with cheers of adoration as the Pats’ lead swelled to 40-10.
Pinecrest finished the dual with six pins accounting for 36 of its 45 points. The other nine came via a major decision win by Jonah Caliri (170 pounds) and a technical-fall victory of 21-6 for Irvin Enriquez (113). Other Patriots to score wins by pinfall were Dallas Roemer (138), Ryan McGuire (182), Bryson Thomas (195) and Contreras, who was wrestling one weight class up at 152 pounds.
“It has been a great rivalry these past two years,” said Contreras. “The two teams are cordial with each other and we are all friends, but when it comes down to ‘Battle of the Pines’ we always want to come out on top. The atmosphere was amazing tonight with the pre-match antics, music and wrestling under the spotlight. It all really works to get you extra pumped up.”
Union Pines head coach Chris Vondruska was upbeat in his post-match interview despite the outcome of the dual.
“This was a great night for wrestling in our county most importantly,” he said. “As a dual meet it was a good early test to see just where we are at this point in the season. I think we are going to be a very different team at the end of the year and I think Pinecrest will be as well.
“Right now we are not at full strength — meaning there is still a lot of work to do in the room to get where we need to be. That is our goal and it takes time. The good news is the state tournament is close to three months away and to have our guys score some quality points against a good 4-A team in Pinecrest is encouraging.”
Union Pines picked up three wins via pin from Connor Van Cleave (145), Dylan Barber (106) and Ryan Hull (132), while Sam Bartram and Ian Burch both earned major-decision victories. The Vikes other six points came by way of forfeit in the 120-pound division with Paul Ambrose receiving credit for the win.
“Tonight marked the first time we did the halftime thing with the youth,” added Vondruska, “and the two feeder programs. It worked out well and its aim is to get the community involved as much as possible so we can grow from the bottom up in terms of age and really get things hopping for wrestling locally.”
Both Moore County squads participated in one of North Carolina’s premier regular-season dual tournament, the Lake Norman Duals, Saturday at Lake Norman High School.
Pinecrest, the defending 4-A NCHSAA individual tournament team state champion and 4-A dual team state runner-up, then returns to dual action Wednesday Dec. 5 in Wadesboro against the 3-A Anson Bearcats.
Union Pines, the two-time reigning 3-A NCHSAA individual tournament team runner-up, will also be back on the mat Wednesday in its Cape Fear Valley Conference opener in Fayetteville against the Douglas Byrd Eagles.
Pinecrest 45 Union Pines 32
138 pounds: Roemer (P) pinned Tim Squires 2:00. 145: Connor Van Cleave (U) pinned Ian Degre 2:00. 152: Contreras (P) pinned Dylan Duncan 2:19. 160: Ian Burch (U) maj. dec. Sawyer Bateman, 12-4. 170: Caliri (P) maj. dec. Zach Yates 11-3. 182: McGuire (P) pinned Justin Hall 3:27. 195: Thomas (P) pinned Grant Jefferson 1:11. 220: Mello (P) pinned Garrett Jefferson 0:47. 285: Luke Fetla Luke (P) pinned Reaves 0:19. 106: Dylan Barber (UP) pinned Alex Ngyen 3:01. 113: Enriquez, (P) tech. fall Mike Fedowitz 6:00 21-6. 120: Paul Ambrose (U) forfeit. 126: Samuel Bartram (U) maj. dec. Dakotah Nelson 15-2. 132: Ryan Hull (U) pinned Gavin Brunner 3:15.
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