KERNERSVILLE — Mount Airy’s wrestling team improved to 26-11 with a 42-34 conference win over Bishop McGuinness Friday night.
Bishop was better at the lower weights, but the Granite Bears won the middle classes, then received three forfeits at the top.
The Villains actually won more matches, six of the 10 held, but the Bears won all of theirs by pins while limiting Bishop to three decisions.
Coach Steve Braune said he and co-coach Michael Bodnar have been emphasizing not giving up falls all season, and it paid off again.
At 106 pounds, Bishop’s Reid Forrester took control over Alex Howard. However, the sophomore didn’t give up a pin or a technical fall in an 11-1 major decision. That gave the Villains only four team points.
Then at 113, Daniel Sechrist held Jesse Russell to a minor decision at 15-8.
Just one more point, and it is a major decision, but Sechrist and Howard saved the Bears five possible points, Braune pointed out.
The Bears don’t have anyone at 120 and gave up a forfeit, making it 13-0 for Bishop at the bottom weights.
At 126, the coaches considered bumping Jackson Blizzard away from Bishop’s star, Alexander Preudhomme.
Preudhomme (29-4 coming in) won a state title at 103 as a sophomore, then finished second last year at 126.
Jackson had faced him a few times, but hadn’t fared well, Braune admitted. Moving Blizzard up to 132 could have given the Bears a needed win, but the coaches decided to leave him at 126.
Jackson won’t get any better unless he faces the best competition, the coaches believed. He might face Preudhomme in the regional or state tournaments, so he needs the experience.
Preudhomme is quick on his feet and has a great cradle, according to Braune. Even though Blizzard was looking for the cradle, the Bishop star eventually caught the junior in one minute and 35 seconds into the third period.
After Jamie Smith (132) was pinned in the second period, another great match came at 138.
Shay Wilson dropped down to this class earlier in the week, but only had two forfeits. This was his first match at the new weight.
Wilson (22-8) took on Bishop’s next-best wrestler, Nicholas Trego (21-8), ranked fifth in 1A.
Trego had a 4-3 lead in the third period and just held Shay down for the last minute and a half, said Braune. Trego is good on top, and Shay couldn’t get that one-point escape for a tie or a reversal for the win.
As he came off the mat, Wilson told Braune that he felt faster and stronger at 138. The coach said he thinks Wilson will win the next time the two face off.
At 145, Triston Mabry pinned his man in only 30 seconds, starting a run of four pins for the Bears.
At 152, Andrew Moore took down Sean Forrester early on, then flipped Forrester on his back and never let him up. Moore finally got the pin with 11 seconds left in the period.
At 160 Dallas Smith started the second period on bottom, got an escape and then later took down Daniel Hutchens for a pin at 3:03.
Landon Mumford (170) had a battle with Riley Simson. Mumford never trailed, but couldn’t get Simson on his back the first two periods. Starting the third in the down position, Mumford got a reversal for a 6-0 lead, then worked to get a pin with just 20 seconds left.
At 182, Austin Branch took on Nick Castellano (17-6 coming in). Branch battled well in the first period, then in the second took an accidental knee to the head, Braune said.
The coaches didn’t know it at the time, but Branch suffered a mild concussion and continued wrestling. Castellano got the pin about a minute later.
After the match, the Bishop trainer flagged Branch. Braune said he would take a safety-first approach with the junior over the next few days.
Nick Kendall, Mason Timmerman and Brian Bennett received forfeits at the top weights.
The Bears travel to East Surry on Tuesday.