RONDA — Mount Airy wrestling went 4-1 Saturday to finish second in the Cardinal Duals at East Wilkes.
The Granite Bears finished second to Glenn last year and were just behind South Iredell this year.
South Iredell is a tough 3A team that won the Jimmy Martin Classic three weeks ago and handed North Surry its only loss so far.
When Mount Airy and South Iredell met at Surry Central, the 3A school won 54-20.
This team has made huge improvements in just three weeks, said Coach Steve Braune. South Iredell won by only 13 points this time, and 12 of those points were because of forfeits, he noted.
J.J. Wheeler (195) was out sick, and the team doesn’t have anyone at 113.
Against North Stokes, the Bears won 78-6 with the only points coming with Wheeler’s forfeit at 195. The team has two 106-pounders, so Emily Webb took a forfeit at 106, and Jacob Hogue slid up to 113 for that forfeit.
The Bears had another lopsided win over East Wilkes 60-12.
In that match, senior Jackson Blizzard earned his 100th career win, pinning Ryan Lentz in the first minute.
Blizzard is the school’s career wins leader and is one of only a couple of holdovers from the team that went 0-27 his freshman year.
Blizzard has been bouncing back and forth between 132 and 138 depending on where the team needs him. He went 5-0 Saturday to improve to 23-5 this season.
The other holdover from that freshman year is Brian Bennett, who got his first heavy action after coming along slowly from a knee injury in football season. Bennett went 4-1 to improve to 10-4 overall.
Another football player brushing off the wrestling rust is Shay Wilson.
He went against East Wilkes’ best wrestler, Derrick Woodie, at 145.
Shay knocked Woodie out of the 1A regional last year, and they probably will see each other back in the regional this year, said Braune.
It was a great, close match, but in the third period Woodie caught Wilson for a fall, the coach said.
The third match was against South Iredell, and that marathon ran on for about an hour and a half, Braune said.
In this match, the newly juggled lineup really shined.
Chandler Snyder has slimmed down from 132 to 126. That allowed Blizzard to stay at 132 and Kenyon Smith to drop from 145 to 138. That way Kenyon and Shay can be in the same lineup instead of splitting time.
Then with Triston Mabry at 152, Cameron Pack at 160, Landon Mumford at 170 and Austin Branch at 182, the Bears have a formidable middle of the lineup.
Like the 1927 Yankees, the Bears feel like they have their own Murderers’ Row.
Snyder gave up a fall in the last South Iredell match, but didn’t give up a pin this time, losing in a technical fall, the coach noted. Then Blizzard earned an overtime win, Smith had a pin and Wilson and Triston earned technical falls.
After Pack was pinned for his only loss of the day, Mumford earned a pin.
South Iredell’s 182 is really good, said Braune. Devin Alspaugh is 19-3, and Austin Branch couldn’t handle him and was pinned.
After the forfeit at 195, Cody Smith was pinned at 220, then Bennett was pinned late in the third period for his only loss of the day.
From 182 to heavyweight, the Bears gave up 24 straight points, and that was the difference in the match, Braune said.
Against Starmount, the Bears won 54-24.
When the Bears beat the Rams three weeks ago, Landon Mumford roughed up Starmount’s Dalton Oliver with a 17-2 tech fall, but the young sophomore has been much improved since then.
Oliver won 11 straight matches coming into the day. Mumford won again, but only by a 3-0 decision.
Kudos to Oliver for making big strides, said Braune.
The Bears wrapped up the day with a 58-22 win over Mount Tabor.
This was an enormous roster with 53 kids on the team, said Braune. The wrestlers were all fast and athletic, but the Bears beat them on skill and technique, he said.
Most of the 22 points came from Wheeler’s forfeit at 195, Snyder forfeiting at 126 because of an ankle injury and Branch forfeiting at 182 after he had a whiplash reaction to his neck with his head swinging over and bouncing on the mat.
Austin seemed okay, Braune said, but just to be cautious he and co-coach Michael Bodnar decided to call it quits right then.
Five Bears went undefeated on the day: Jacob Hogue (106 and 113), Jackson (132), Smith (138), Mabry (152) and Mumford (170)
Wilson (145), Pack (160) and Bennett (285) all went 4-1.
Next Mount Airy goes to Winston-Salem Friday for the R.J. Reynolds Invitational.