The fourth-ranked Pinecrest Patriots (17-0) continued their winning ways in wrestling this past Wednesday when they defeated third-ranked Northwest Guilford 42-29.
The Vikings (28-1) are the defending North Carolina 4-A dual team state champions who came into the dual shortly after dismantling the Purnell Swett Rams 69-8.
Under the Patriot wrestling lamp and in front of a packed James W. Moore Gymnasium the Patriots honored their alumni and began the long and arduous evening’s battle with the Vikings.
“We are excited to bring this level of competition to our school and our student-athletes,” said Patriot head coach Bob Curtin. “It is important for the development of these young men to face adversity in all disciplines and learn to battle and overcome. We are extremely proud that each and every student-athlete banded together and wrestled for each other and our awesome alumni.”
The dual opened up at 195 pounds where sophomore Lucas Peck earned a win by pin to give the Patriots a 6-0 lead.Patriot junior Cooper Bumgarner followed up with a hard-fought 5-0 win. Bumgarner’s win extended the Patriot lead to 9-0.
Jimmy Gorba replaced starting sophomore heavyweight Chase Godwin because of Godwin’s serious high ankle sprain and pulled ligaments.
Gorba fought hard for three periods but ultimately sustained a tough loss cutting the Patriot lead to 9-6. Gunnar Hillis at 106 pounds also suffered a similar hard-fought fate giving the Vikings the 12-9 lead.
Patriot captain Matt Rowland wrestled true to form and pinned his opponent in short order temporarily giving the lead back to the Patriots by a score of 15-12. Rowland, a sophomore, is the second-ranked wrestler at 113 pounds in North Carolina.
“Rowland’s match was critical and the extra points awarded due to win by pin were significant because the team had to wrestle a gauntlet of highly ranked Viking middle weights,” said Patriot assistant coach Qumars Shodja.
The next two matches pitted two standout Patriot freshmen, Riley Merchant and Elijah Ybarra, against two Vikings ranked first in the state at 120 and 126 pounds, respectively. The boys needed to wrestle tough with conviction and not give up easy points, according to Curtin. After suffering two close losses the Vikings took back the lead 21-15.
The Vikings continued to earn hard-fought matches and collect valuable team points at 132 and 138, stretching their lead to 29-15 — the last points earned by NW Guilford.
Freshman standout, and fourth-ranked, Jayden Dobeck rallied the Patriots and earned six team points by pinning his opponent.
One of the pivotal matches of the evening witnessed a long, bloody and exciting match between two opponents ranked in the top 15 in state. Patriot wrestler Jack Grider battled, overcame a wrist injury, and earned a much needed Patriot victory.
With the score 29-24 and only three matches left the Patriots had to gain the lead and distance themselves.
Senior Hunter Hillis ensured that Patriot lead by quickly and easily dispensing his opponent with a first-period pin. Hillis is the fourth-ranked 160-pound wrestler in the state and developing into a phenomenal young leader on our team, said Patriot assistant coach Jamie Williams.
At 170 pounds senior Dane Mathews was taken deep into the match before pinning his Viking opponent and securing the victory for the Patriots. Mathews earned six team points pushing the insurmountable Patriot lead to 36-29 with one match remaining.
Sophomore Gavin Millard would earn the win by forfeit, finalizing the Patriot win 42-29.
“We are really proud of the growth and development of the young men on this team,” said Curtin. “These last few weeks have been all about our ‘next man up’ mantra. Entering showdowns like Northwest Guilford is tough but when two standout wrestlers, such as senior captain Will Nguyen and heavyweight Chase Godwin, are sidelined due to injuries it provides a window into the core of the program.”
The Patriots are not finished with their competition. The varsity travels to Hoke County Wednesday at where they look to lock up the Sandhills Athletic Conference championship.