MILLERS CREEK — North Surry and West Wilkes battled to a 33-all tie in wrestling Friday night.
Arguably the two best 1A/2A wrestling squads in the Western region fought through 14 weight classes and ended in a tie. Since matches can’t end in a draw, the teams went to scorecard criteria and West Wilkes was awarded the win.
Out of 14 weights, the Blackhawks won eight times to North Surry’s six.
Still, the Greyhounds refused to give up pins and saved team points at several spots — enough for the Hounds to catch up in points despite the discrepancy in wins.
“We wrestled really hard, but they are good,” Coach Eric Jessup said of the Blackhawks, the defending state 1A champions.
Both schools have six wrestlers placed in the top 10 on the Retro Rankings website.
Going against another great program, the coach starts looking at the rosters and figuring where he might get points, Jessup explained.
Sometimes a great wrestler will get bumped up a weight class to take on another good wrestler in the hopes of pulling out a win.
Between the two coaches, the lineups ended up being shuffled like a deck of cards. Jessup said there were probably only four or five matches out of 14 weights where the regular starters wrestled each other.
With so many good athletes in the same event, there were bound to be good matchups, and the Hounds found three in the middle weights.
West’s Jake St. Germain, who finished second in the state for 1A last February, went against North’s Tristen Brannock, sixth in 2A last season.
Brannock went up 3-2, and St. Germain needed to score in the third period, said Jessup. St. Germain tried a move and almost pulled it off, but Brannock countered to hold on to the one-point win.
North’s Austin Rozier battled to a 4-4 tie with Casey Willis late in the third period.
Rozier had a cradle locked up and went to pull Willis over to get back-time points, the coach said. Willis reversed him for two points and the win.
That was a swing of up to nine potential team points. If Rozier could have gotten the pin, the Hounds would have earned six points. Instead, the Blackhawks got three points for the 6-4 decision.
West’s Dustin Huffman has placed in the top four in the past two state tournaments. However, he was going against a hot wrestler in North’s Devyn Green, who was named most outstanding wrestler at the Greyhound Duals last weekend.
“Green is just wrestling really well right now,” said Jessup. After a typical freshman year of up-and-down performances, the sophomore is “truly coming into his own.”
Green came out and caught Huffman in a headlock in probably the first 10 seconds, the coach recalled. Green took control and remained that way despite Huffman’s attempts at an escape.
Huffman fought with the heart one would expect from a quality wrestler, but Green kept it up for a pin, Jessup said.
“Any time you get in a dogfight like this, you can only get better from it,” the coach said. “We took a lot of positives from this one-point loss.”
Austin McBride went against Jorge Lima, a two-time state champion who was bumped up to 152 lbs. in the hopes of an easy win. Instead, McBride fought him hard the whole way. Even though Lima won by technical fall, McBride saved a point by not getting pinned, the coach pointed out.
Hayden Sutphin is the top-ranked 170-pounder in 1A, and Dalton Golden held him to a 10-2 major decision. That saved two points versus a pin.
At heavyweight, West had Eithen Sheets.
How good is Sheets? Jessup noted that Sheets pinned Dakota Bell, the only person to beat Surry Central’s Wes Brown this season.
Austin Akers held Sheets to a 3-0 lead until the final seconds. Akers went for a move and was caught for a takedown to make it 5-0. Still, that was just a minor decision, the coach noted.
While it was hard to suffer the first loss of the season, Jessup believed that the loss could help his team get better and make it a more potent squad come playoff time.