Pats, Vikes Face Off on Mats Thursday
The participants have dubbed Thursday’s showdown between the Pinecrest and Union Pines wrestling squads the “Battle of the Pines.”
The cross-county rivalry kicks off at 6 p.m. at Union Pines, and usually draws a large crowd of fans for both teams or fans who are simply appreciate top-level wrestling competition.
“I think the rivalry between us and Pinecrest is great,” Union Pines coach Chris Vondruska said, “Travis Flinchum (the head coach at Pinecrest) and I are on the same page as far as that goes.
“In terms of the ongoing season-to-season rivalry, last year is the first year that we lost to them since I have been down here and in that dual they cleaned our clock. It is just amazing what Travis has done with that program and how much better overall they have gotten.
“That has just worked to help the rivalry grow. Now it is exciting and now a lot of people are thinking about this match and wondering who is going to win, because they know both sides are extremely dedicated. So it is going to be an exciting night.”
Two years ago, the Vikings picked up a 42-25 win on their home mats, while last year the Patriots turned the tables with a 56-19 in front of their home crowds.
The teams compete on different levels, with the Vikings in 3-A and Pinecrest in the 4-A classification, but both teams have developed into powerhouse programs.
For two years in a row, the Vikings, under former coach Matt Ragsdale, have finished second in the state individual tournament as a team. Last season, the Patriots claimed the state 4-A individual team championship.
In wrestling there are two state tournaments held. One of them is the state dual team championship, while the other is the state individual championship. The individual championship also awards a team title to the squad that collects the most points during the tournament.
Both programs also had individual state champions last year. Pinecrest had Dustin Roemer claim an individual state title at 152 pounds. Union Pines saw Michael Brennan become the school’s first individual state champion when he garnered a title at 182 pounds in the 3-A classification.
It is the only time this season that the two schools will meet in dual competition in the confines of Moore County.
Sports writer F.W. Manning II contributed to this story.
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