LEXINGTON — Surry Central’s Wes Brown finished second, and three North Surry wrestlers placed in the top eight at the King of the Mat Tournament at North Davidson.
This is the ultimate in-season tournament in the state. Not only do the best 3A and 4A schools in North Carolina take part, but the 40+ teams included squads from Virginia, South Carolina and even one from New York.
“It gives you a chance to gauge yourself on super-tough competition,” said Central Coach Stephen Priddy.
The two local schools started the second day with three wrestlers still in contention for a gold medal after winning three times on Friday.
Heavyweight Brown won his semifinal match Saturday morning, but North’s Austin McMillian (120) and Tristen Brannock (126) fell.
Brown dominated the semifinal and finished the match early with a technical fall, according to Priddy.
That put the undersized heavyweight into the final against Will Robertson, North Rowan. Robertson won the state 1A title at 285 last year, while Brown won the 2A title at 220.
Wes was holding his own at the start, but the two big men grappled and went down hard to the floor, said Priddy. The impact knocked the wind out of Brown.
That seemed to take a little something out of Brown, and the match went downhill from there, the coach said. Still, against the defending heavyweight champ, Brown only lost by a minor decision.
“He wrestled his best and showed a lot of heart,” said Priddy.
For North, McMillian went against two-time 4A state champion Drew Turner.
The match was really close for the whole six minutes, but “Shrimpy” just missed on scoring points twice, and Turner managed two takedowns and a reversal for six points, said North Coach Eric Jessup.
McMillian nearly pulled off a two-point reversal. Then when the period started with McMillian on top, the senior nearly landed Turner on his back where he could have earned points for a near fall.
Those two moves could have made it a 6-5 match, and from there it’s anybody’s ball game, the coach noted.
Brannock’s semifinal was an even bigger heartbreak. For 5:55 of the six-minute match, the score was tied 0-0, said Jessup.
Brannock was on top and was just trying to hold his opponent down for the final seconds to go to overtime. Instead, the wrestler pulled off an escape with just four seconds left for the 1-0 win.
Three other wrestlers were in good position to place in the top eight, but only one succeeded.
Central’s Uriel Secundino and North’s Austin Collins and Levi Slate all won their first two matches Friday before losing in the quarterfinals. They were set to come back on Saturday and make a run for as high as third place.
Instead, Jessup held Collins out with an achy back, and Secundino came down with the flu overnight.
Slate advanced to the seventh/eighth match and won a technical fall 16-0 to finish seventh, said Jessup. With a massive 32-man bracket, top eight is good enough to place.
As for the rest of his squad, Jessup said, “Everywhere we turned there was a brick wall. … We look for the best competition, and (Saturday) we found it.”
Still, he added, “I really feel like both teams got better this weekend.”
While they didn’t progress through the consolation brackets on Saturday, Priddy still commended four wrestlers for their fine showing: Secundino, Bryant White, Zack Martin and Kevin Pack.
They looked good on Friday and wrestled well in defeat Saturday, he said.