WALNUT COVE — East Surry had four wrestlers place in the top four at the Joe Via Invitational Tournament over the weekend.
Jimmy Speer won first place at 160 lbs. at South Stokes High School. Cody Gaskill and Timmy Norman finished second, and Keanu Love was third.
Those high finishes helped propel East to sixth place out of the 13 teams competing.
Speer wrestled well above his weight class. He has been trimming down so that he can compete at 145 this season.
A year ago, Speer started his sophomore season at 152 and went 9-7 as he was slimming down to 145. After the change on Dec. 20, he improved to 14-8 the rest of the way.
This fall, he entered the season above 152 and had to wrestle at 160. He won five straight matches, but still wanted to slim down.
As his weight dropped, Speer continued to fill the 160 class for East Surry, but by giving up so much size he went 2-3 in the five matches leading up to Joe Via.
Speer wants to wrestle at 145 and nearly weighed that Saturday, noted Coach Darrin Haywood. He was giving up more than a dozen pounds, but “he wrestled very smart and did what he had to do to win,” the coach said.
He earned a 3-0 decision on Pher Turbyfill, of 4A Southeast Guilford.
“He made the right moves at the right time and wrestled very technically sound,” Haywood said.
Another Cardinal who has slimmed down over the past month is sophomore Timmy Norman. He has wrestled at 120 after weighing in at 106 last year. He has been trimming down to 113 and finally is able to wrestle at that weight.
Norman has had a pretty good start, going 6-4 with three losses coming to Surry Central standout Kevin Pack and North Surry state qualifier Austin McMillian.
On Saturday, he won two matches to reach the 113 title match.
Jacob McNeill, SE Guilford, pinned Norman in the first period.
“He didn’t have what he wanted, losing in the finals,” said Haywood. “But hopefully this is a breakout day for him.”
He has been wrestling well, but giving up six or seven pounds at 120 is lot of weight as compared to the heavier classes, according to the coach.
For the second week in a row, Gaskill lost in the finals to North Surry’s Levi Slate. After a one-point loss last weekend, Gaskill fell 9-7 on Saturday.
Asked what he did to be successful, Haywood said simply, “He moved. When he becomes offensive, he’s a very good wrestler.” When he waits for the other guy to make the first move, he’s not as successful.
Gaskill is the top-ranked wrestler in 1A right now, but Haywood said that to get to where he wants to be at the end of the year, the senior has to find ways to beat a great opponent like Slate.
Love had a good day for the Cards, too. He lost just once and came back to make the consolation finals.
Love fell in the semifinals to Bryant Halsch, SE Guilford. Then he won in the losers’ bracket to make the third-place match with Matt Poss, South Stokes.
Keanu was looking forward to facing Poss, but the Saura wrestler had too many matches leading up to the finals and wasn’t able to compete.
East Surry will take the rest of December off before returning to the mat Jan. 4 at home against West Montgomery.
“We’re going through the flu bug right now,” said Haywood. “So we’re hoping everyone is healthy come the turn of the new year.”