East Surry hosts Surry Central tonight as local wrestling squads get into the heart of the Northwest Conference schedule.
After months of taking part in tournaments and nonconference matches, the conference seeding will be determined over the next two weeks.
North Surry hosts West Stokes Tuesday after its match with Mount Airy was postponed last Friday.
Mount Airy will squeeze in a nonconference tri-match with Virginia’s Patrick County and Bassett Wednesday before going to West Stokes on Friday.
The Bears’ co-coach Steve Braune said he recently earned his 100th win as a head coach.
That mark is more impressive considering that two years ago the Bears lost every match as they didn’t have enough wrestlers to field a full lineup.
Braune said he took over a similarly small team when he started at East Wilkes years ago. He spent three years there and one year at North Wilkes before taking over Mount Airy with Coach Michael Bodnar.
If the team’s record the past two years is any indication, Braune could be at 200 wins quickly.
The Bears were 19-16 last year and have gone 25-12 so far this season.
Eight wrestlers have 20 wins already, led by Dallas Smith (160) and Landon Mumford (170) at 31 each. Mason Timmerman (220) has the best winning percentage at 84 percent with his 26-5 record, despite missing time with a shoulder injury.
North Surry is hosting the conference tournament this year, and Coach Eric Jessup is anticipating some high-quality matchups in the semifinals and finals.
Last year, the Northwest Conference was well represented at the state tournament in Greensboro, he noted. Wes Brown, Surry Central, won the 220 title for 2A, and North’s Zach Creed was fourth. East Surry’s Greg UpChurch was third in the 1A bracket.
This year, the conference could make some noise in Greensboro at a few weights, he believed.
At 195 are North’s Levi Slate (37-4), East’s Cody Gaskell (17-4) and Surry Central’s Bryant White (20-10).
At 152, North’s Austin Collins (34-2) and East’s Keanu Love (21-4) already had one memorable matchup and could face off in the conference title. That is, if they can survive Mount Airy’s Andrew Moore (23-5) and South Stokes’ Matt Poss (22-8).
At 126, Bishop’s Alexander Preudhomme is ranked first in 1A at 29-4. North’s Tristen Brannock is second for 2A at 35-6. Mount Airy’s Jackson Blizzard is 16-5, and Central’s Mason Snow is 18-8.
At 132, South Stokes’ Morgan Bagley is sixth in the 1A ranking at 32-7. Central’s Uriel Secundino is 26-10, North’s Austin Rozier is 33-8. Mount Airy’s Jamie and Kenyon Smith have split time at 132 and gone 24-14.
At 138, Bishop’s Nick Trego is fourth in 1A at 21-8. Mount Airy’s Shay Wilson (23-8) has spent most of the season at 145, but has just dropped down to 138. Central’s Raymond Dance is 24-12, and West Stokes’ Holden Sands is 17-4.
At 145, North’s Devyn Green (32-9) is vastly improved over last year. Mount Airy’s Triston Mabry (18-5) will get more starts now that he isn’t splitting time with Wilson. East’s Jimmy Speer (21-7) needed overtime to beat Mabry in their last meeting.
The conference tournament is at North Surry Feb. 9, starting at 9:30 a.m.
The state dual-team tournament begins Feb. 12. The regional individual tournament will be Feb. 22-23 at Piedmont High School.
The Greensboro Coliseum hosts the state tournament Feb. 28 to March 2.