The Greyhounds (8-1) participated in a tri-match last week against two highly ranked opponents.
The Hounds beat the Catawba Bandies, ranked fifth in 2-A coaches poll at the time. Then right after that, they faced West Wilkes, the state 1-A champs last year and the second-ranked 1-A school this year.
The Hounds were down just a single point going into the final match, but couldn’t pull it out. The loss ended a win streak that dates back almost three years to January 2008.
The wrestlers didn’t drop their heads. Instead, they showed up at West Wilkes’s gym Saturday and put on an impressive performance in individual brackets. While this doesn’t go down as a team win, North Surry came away with the best records for the day. All 10 wrestlers finished third or higher in their respective weight classes.
Greyhounds taking first in their weight classes were Tristen Brannock 103 lbs., Josh Thomas 145, and Logan Younger 171. Finishing second were Austin McMillian 112 lbs., Austin Collins 130, Tanner Riddle 135, and Levi Slate 189. Third-place finishers were Dakota Key 125, Levi Taylor 140, and Zach Creed 215.
In addition to North Surry and the host school, the tournament included wrestlers from several schools including Surry Central, Mount Airy, South Stokes, Wilkes Central, North Davidson, West Davidson, West Caldwell and Avery.
Taking part in the bracket-style tournament were several wrestlers who qualified for the state playoffs last year, said Surry Central Coach Stephen Priddy.
“North Surry’s Josh Thomas was named most outstanding wrestler of the tournament, and it was well deserved,” said Priddy. “His weight class was probably the toughest there for ranked people and top-notch kids. He pretty much just dominated the matches.”
Thomas was ranked first in the state at the start of the season at 140 lbs., but has been wrestling at 145 so far this season. His coach, Eric Jessup, said one of the three boys he pinned came in third in the state last year.
Since Thomas was favored in the tournament, the performance that made the coach smile was Logan Younger winning the 171 lb. class. While Younger is considered one of the top 10 in his weight class for 2-A, one of the guys he beat was ranked fifth. Colt Kale, a senior from West Caldwell, qualified for the state playoffs last year.
Jessup said topping Kale should be a good boost of confidence for his junior moving on through the rest of the season.
Central’s coach echoed that for some of his performers. A dozen Eagles took part in the event, and seven advanced to the semifinals or further. Of those advancing, only three were seniors, so early success can bode well for the team in years to come.
“We’re really young at spots, so it’s good to see those younger guys step up and do well,” said Priddy.
Sophomores Jared Dimmette (160) and Bryant White (189) finished fourth and heavyweight Wes Brown second. Freshman Kevin Pack (112) finished fourth.
After losing early on, Pack came back in the double-elimination format to beat an opponent who had beaten him earlier in the season in dual-team format, said Priddy. Then in the battle for third place, Pack lasted all the way through double overtime before losing 4-3.
In addition to Brown, three other Eagles finished second: Jacob Longworth 125, Cesar Pena 140, and Jared Johnson 152. Priddy said he was pleased with Longworth, whose only loss came to a wrestler who finished sixth in the state last year.
If a kid is going to take a loss, Priddy said, it is better to do it now and learn from it to improve through the season.
Jessup said one of the highlights of the day was the heavyweight championship match between Central’s Brown and R.C. Rouse of West Davidson. Brown was ranked fifth in the state for heavyweights, while Rouse was a preseason pick for fifth at 215 lbs. before moving up.
Jessup said the two big men battled hard, refusing to give up points. In the end Rouse edged out Brown 5-3. The coach said if the match went a little longer, he believes Brown might have come out on top.
The North Surry coach pointed out that Surry Central was leading after the first round, but “it seemed like they just couldn’t catch a break in the semifinal matches.” He said Priddy has done a great job with the team.
Priddy was impressed with a Mount Airy freshman who made it to the finals at 103 lbs. Jackson Blizzard lost to North’s Brannock, but served notice that he is a force to be reckoned with.
“He’s come a long way this season,” said Mount Airy Coach Tom Wunderle. “He still has a lot of work to do, but he has a promising career ahead of him.”
Another youngster performing well for Mount Airy was heavyweight Zaqwan Dobson, who finished fourth in a tough class. The sophomore was listed at 5’7” and 214 lbs. when he played halfback for the football team, so he is compact.
Wunderle said Dobson has been working out and gotten much stronger since last year.
Jessup said sophomores Brannock and McMillian have been pushing each other hard year-round, both in practices and in offseason tournaments. The coach said Brannock amassed 108 matches during the offseason, and McMillian was close behind.
Next up for local wrestling, East Surry has a match this evening at home against East Wilkes. Surry Central hosts Elkin on Wednesday at 7 p.m. North Surry is at a tri-match in Lake Norman Wednesday at 7 p.m. Mount Airy will take part in a tournament at Mt. Tabor on Saturday.