DOBSON — In the final regular-season match of his Surry Central career, everything was riding on the shoulders of Maurice Abrams.
With Tuesday nights’ dual against Western Piedmont 2-A rival Forbush down to one individual match, the Golden Eagles trailed 36-33, and Abrams, the senior who represents Central in the 220-pound weight class, was the man on the spot. Beat Forbush’s Dustin Estes, and the Golden Eagles would claim victory on their Senior Night, finish ahead of the Falcons in the WP2A race, and head coach Stephen Priddy would have his 300th career victory. Lose, and none of those things happen.
Abrams knew everything depended on him, and in the first period, he wrestled carefully, trying to avoid making a mistake. The entire first period saw both he and Estes maintain a neutral position and the match still tied 0-0. Abrams chose to open the second period in the down position, and he scored an escape to take a 1-0 lead. At that point, an injury time-out gave Priddy — who was more concerned about beating the Falcons than his career win total — a chance to talk to his wrestler.
“That situation puts a lot of pressure on young guys, especially if they’ve never been in that situation,” he said. “I told him just to go out there and have confidence in himself, and wrestle like he’s capable of doing. I told him that we didn’t need for anything major to happen, he just needed to win a match.”
This was true. All Abrams needed to do was win by any kind of a decision. A minor decision would have tied the team score at 36, but Central would have been credited with a 37-36 victory because it would have won more individual matches. It was all academic when the two wrestlers came back to the mat, though.
It wasn’t long before Abrams, now wrestling much more aggressively, scored a takedown on Estes. Soon, he had the Forbush wrestler on his back, and with 38 seconds left in the second period, he had the pin. Surry Central had a 39-36 victory, no tiebreakers needed.
Golden Eagle athletic director Myles Wilmoth announced to the crowd that the win was the 300th of Priddy’s career moments later, during the postgame handshake. The coach revealed that his wrestlers were not aware of the personal milestone.
“There were a couple of people who knew that (300) was a possibility tonight, but the kids didn’t know,” he said. “This is my 16th season, and over the years, we’ve had a lot of success. Hitting 300 career wins is a nice compliment, but it’s all about the kids.”
The Falcons made Surry Central earn Priddy’s 300th win, and if not for a few crucial matches, he might still be stuck on 299.
The dual opened at 285 pounds, where Forbush conceded a win to David Peña. Then it went back to the top of the lineup, and the Eagles’ Casey Hutchins scored a tight 5-3 decision over Chase Farmer at 106 to give the home team a 9-0 lead.
Things started going the way of the Falcons after that. At 113, Forbush’s Caleb Price, ranked fifth in 2-A by RetroRankings.com, got the upper hand early on and scored two quick takedowns on Dylan Smith, both times letting Smith free. He already had a lead in the match, but later went for the pin, and scored it to put the visitors on the board.
The Golden Eagles still have a hole in their lineup in the lower weight classes, and Priddy decided to concede 120 to the Falcons’ Edwin Alvarenga, while shifting his available wrestlers around for what he thought would be more favorable matchups. It didn’t work at 126, where Forbush’s Jonathan Lopez scored a pin to give his team an 18-9 edge.
The 132-pound match, pitting Central’s Duncan Carter against Worth Martin, was a different story. Priddy gambled that Carter, a freshman, could handle moving up one weight class and handle Martin, who weighs about six pounds more. It didn’t look like a good move early on, when Martin scored a reversal in the first period and then came extremely close to pinning Carter in the waning seconds of the opening period.
Trailing 5-2 after one, the two wrestlers put on an action-packed second period in which Martin scored an escape and a takedown, but was reversed twice by Carter. The last one proved fatal to the Forbush grappler, who was caught on his back and pinned with just 26 seconds left in the frame.
Instead of trailing 24-9, Central closed to within 18-15.
“Normally, he’s a 126, but I told him I had faith and confidence in him to go out and do it,” said Priddy. “Duncan has been working very hard for us.”
Angel Alvarez scored a reversal and a near-fall in the third period of his 138-pound win over Dakota Hutchens, prevailing 10-3 and just missing a pin. Then Danny Mata scored a first-period pin over Reece Warfel at 145, and the Eagles led 24-18.
Forbush’s Isaac McMillian, the top-ranked 2-A wrestler in the state at 152, pinned Ed Cano at 152 pounds to tie the dual again. At 160, Central’s Forrest Antwine went the distance with Caleb Wingler, who came on strong at the end of their match but still lost 9-5. Surry Central led 27-24, but the Falcons won the next two weight classes. Jovanis Pozo pinned Alex Rodriguez at 170, and Weston Edwards did the same to Michael Branch at 182.
Forbush led 36-27, and there would be no 300th win for Priddy unless Kaleb Dunn and Abrams could get nine points between them. Dunn, the state’s second-ranked 195-pounder in the 2-A class, pinned Tanner Atwood in the second period. All Abrams had to do was win.
“This is the first year he’s been in the starting lineup for us. He’d never been in this position before and he didn’t know how to react to it,” said Priddy. “But he came through.”
The Golden Eagles will wrestle at West Stokes on Thursday night. The teams are tied for second place in the WP2A, and the winner will all but clinch the league’s second and final automatic berth in the state dual-team tournament.
Reach John on Twitter at @johncate73.