Viking Grapplers Finish Third at Sarah Wilkes Invitational
With the postseason looming on the horizon, coach Matt Ragsdale thinks his Union Pines wrestlers are peaking at the right time.
The latest example of the budding Viking grapplers’ progression was their third-place finish in last weekend’s Sarah Wilkes Invitational held in Eden.
With 10 Vikings earning at least eighth-place finishes in the two-day, 20-team event, Union Pines earned a third-place finish overall with a total of 148 points, finishing behind 4-A Davie County, which finished first with 176.5 points, and Jack Britt, another 4-A school, which came in second with 160 points.
“This is a great warm-up for states (3-A class). There is a little less pressure than states,” Ragsdale said. “But it is a great tournament, probably the toughest tournament (of regular season) in the state. Most of the teams entered are 4-A schools, and not just any 4-A schools. A lot of them are ranked in the top 10 in the state. It is just great competition for our guys.
“Most tournaments don’t award through eight places, but this one is so tough that they award down through eighth. That is telling you something about the competition, and how good it is.”
One Viking who warmed to the competition was Michael Brennan. The 182-pounder, who has yet to suffer a loss this season, solidified his ranking at the top of the 182-pound 3-A rankings by taking the championship of the 182 class in the Sarah Wilkes tourney.
“He is tough,” Ragsdale said. “He’s definitely one of the best kids ever to wrestle at Union Pines.”
But Ragsdale was also excited about the performance of some of his younger wrestlers. He pointed to Andreas Berryman (285, placed sixth), Zach Yates (152, eighth) and Ian Burch (160, seventh) as a few of the Viking performers who earned solid finishes and showed they were hitting their strides heading into the postseason.
As an example of the strength of the fields in the various weight classes at the Sarah Wilkes event, Ragsdale pointed to Jaiden Lindsay, who wrestles at 126 pounds for the Vikes. He finished fifth in his division, but one of the competitors he defeated during the two-day tourney was Jake Angelo of Southern Alamance, who finished third in the state 4-A competition last year.
Josh Huskey also earned a fifth-place finish for the Vikes in the 220-pound class. Although he got a late start to the wrestling season after coming off an injury suffered during the football season, Ragsdale feels he is another wrestler starting to peak for state competition.
Two of his losses last weekend came to top-ranked 4-A wrestlers, and both came by 1-0 scores.
Philip Mondi earned a win in the consolation finals for the Vikes, placing third in the 120-pound class. Samuel Bartram grabbed a fourth at 113 pounds, while teammates Billy Hornbaker (106) and Ryan Hull (132) scored seventh-place finishes.
Before getting into the postseason competition, the Vikes have two more dual matches against Cape Fear Valley Conference foes. They wrestle on the road against Southern Lee tonight and then conclude the regular season next Wednesday at Westover.
The conference tournament is set for Saturday, Feb. 4.
The state dual team competition begins Feb. 7 with first-round matches.
The individual regionals are slated to begin Feb. 16, and the state individual tournament is set to begin Feb. 23.
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