Local wrestling squads are in action tonight as the state playoffs kick off.
Three days after the Northwest Conference Tournament and its individual format, wrestlers are back in dual-team mode today.
Conference champion North Surry (32-2) is the top seed for the Northwest in the 2A side.
East Surry and Mount Airy each went 5-2 in conference play, but the Cardinals beat the Bears in their head-to-head matchup to give East Surry the one seed in the 1A brackets.
Surry Central Coach Stephen Priddy noted that the western half of the state only gets two wild cards into the 2A brackets. With North Surry getting the only guaranteed spot, the Eagles had to wait to hear if they got in.
With a 26-10 record, the Eagles did get a wild card. West Stanly (17-10) received the other.
Surry Central travels to West Lincoln High to face Newton-Conover (18-5), ranked fourth in the state in a coaches’ poll on Retro Rankings.
If they win, the Eagles immediately wrestle the winner of West Lincoln (25-13) and Wilkes Central (18-15).
North Surry is ranked second in the poll, but the Greyhounds have to travel to Thomasville (34-3), which is ranked fifth in the poll.
Coach Eric Jessup said last week that this had the potential to have been the West Regional final, but now they have to meet in the first round because of how the conferences are paired up well in advance.
In fact, Jessup has been checking out the Bulldogs for weeks because he knew he would be facing the top team from the Central Carolina Conference.
“I told my guys, ‘If you want to go to state, you’ve got to beat them anyway, so you might as well get it over with in the first round,’” Jessup said Saturday.
The survivor of that battle takes on the winner of Wheatmore (17-5) and West Caldwell (28-14).
If the Eagles and Hounds each win their first two matches, the rivals would face each other in the third round.
The number one team in the coaches’ poll is Croatan (28-4), which is in the eastern brackets. The other four teams in the top five are in the western half.
Third-ranked Piedmont (29-5) is also in the west brackets, but North Surry/Surry Central wouldn’t face that team until the West Regional final.
Only 16 teams make it into the 1A playoffs, and four of them are from this area.
In the western half of the brackets, the Bears and Cards are joined by West Wilkes and North Wilkes.
West Wilkes (13-1) is ranked second in the 1A coaches’ poll to North Rowan (24-2).
The Blackhawks host the Bears (32-13) at 6 p.m. Also at West Wilkes, North Wilkes (30-13) takes on Mitchell (33-5). The winners of those two matches will face off at 7:30 p.m.
“We’re getting the three-time defending state champion; everyone has pretty much written us off,” said Co-Coach Steve Braune. “If we wrestle hard and take it to them, we can compete. Coming off a second-place finish in the conference tournament … the guys are pumped up.”
East Surry (16-11) hosts the other western matchups. The Card face Cherokee (18-17). At the same time, Robbinsville (18-7) faces Central Academy (26-12). Robbinsville is ranked third in the coaches’ poll, while East Surry was an honorable mention to the top five.
The champion of the West Wilkes matches will take on the survivor of the East Surry duals in the West Regional final.
The times and locations for the third rounds will be determined later.