KING — The start to the 2016 wrestling season couldn’t have gone much better for the Mount Airy Granite Bears.
The Bears, who don’t have any football players in their starting lineup and therefore are already able to field their full team, are off to a 7-1 start to the season that included a sweep of Saturday’s Turkey Duals at West Stokes High School. Earlier in the week, the team split a pair of matches against powerhouses Bunker Hill and Elkin, claiming a three-point victory over the Buckin’ Elks when Barron Pilson scored a pin in the final match of the night with Mount Airy trailing by three points.
“That match came down to him, and he needed at least a major decision for us to win,” said coach Cody Atkins. “He got a pin and we won by three. Coming into the season, I thought Elkin was one of the top two teams in 1A (along with defending state champion Rosewood), and for us to show we’re right there with them is a huge win for us.”
The Bears had suffered their only loss during that Nov. 22 quad meet, which also included North Stokes. Against Bunker Hill, the decision came down to the final match as well, but Mount Airy lost that one and sustained their only setback so far this season.
In the Turkey Duals, 11 Bear wrestlers went undefeated in their four matches. As a team, Mount Airy pummeled Reagan (72-6), Starmount (66-14), host West Stokes (58-24) and North Forsyth (84-0, the maximum possible score).
The Bears’ 138-pound junior wrestler, Johnny Dollyhigh, was named as the Most Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament after pinning all four of his opponents.
“That was a special honor for him,” said Atkins. “It usually goes to a senior, but he had pins in all of his matches.”
There have been no statewide team rankings for the 1A class posted by RetroRankings, the state’s most popular prep wrestling site, but the Granite Bears should be somewhere in the top five when they do come out. Atkins said that Rosewood, a team representing northern Wayne County near Goldsboro, would almost certainly be ranked No. 1, but that he thought Mount Airy would earn a high ranking.
The Bears will be back on the mats today, when they take a road trip to Hays for a quad hosted by North Wilkes. Mount Airy will wrestle the Vikings, along with area rivals Forbush and East Surry.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.