Don’t look now, but it looks like there’s yet another contender wearing Mount Airy navy blue and white.
After a fall which saw the school’s girls’ tennis team miss a state championship by just a few points and in which the school’s football team is just two wins from a title, here comes the Granite Bears’ wrestling contingent.
Mount Airy, which debuted at No. 2 in the 1A ranks in the first RetroRankings.com state poll earlier in the week, defeated seven out of eight opponents this week in last Saturday’s Rockingham Duals and in a Tuesday quad at Alleghany High School, improving its overall record to 17-2. The Bears trail only defending state champion Rosewood among 1A teams.
“I’m beyond excited about that,” said coach Cody Atkins of his team’s lofty perch. “It is nice to get some recognition.”
Mount Airy was the lone 1A school to compete in the Rockingham event. Atkins said that the competition included four 4A teams, two 3A teams, a team from Virginia, and the Granite Bears. There may have been some wrestlers from the other schools who needed reassurance that not all 1A teams are that tough, because Mount Airy finished second in the tournament.
The Bears were back picking on teams their own size on Tuesday. The Alleghany quad was a showdown of four small schools from two different states, the host school and Mount Airy hailing from North Carolina, and the Old Dominion, represented by Chilhowie and Fort Chiswell. The Bears defeated all three — Alleghany 54-21, Fort Chiswell 78-3, and Chilhowie 66-8.
The last of the three schools was thought to have a chance to do some damage against Mount Airy, because Chilhowie had a couple of wrestlers who placed in the Virginia state championships last year at 120 and 126, where they challenged Bear standouts Luis Osorno and two-time state champion Jacob Hogue, respectively. Neither wrestler nor coach Atkins knew anything about the Virginians other than that they were clearly strong opponents. However, both matches ended in a pin for the Bears.
“That really stood out for me, that we got pins over both of those kids and they were state place-winners,” the coach said. “A lot of times, you see different styles from wrestlers in different states, and it was good to wrestle those teams from Virginia. Our kids getting pins over those two was a real highlight.
Mount Airy also saw an impressive performance from 275-pounder Gray Stone, who didn’t come into the season with the same billing that Osorno and Hogue did. Stone, a senior co-captain, also faced a significant challenge in the quad, as all three of the schools have a strong entry at 275. While most of Stone’s teammates received a forfeit or two, he had to face three quality opponents. He defeated all three of them, improving his season record to 15-3.
“Gray has been a nice surprise for us,” said Atkins. “He’s really been working hard and showing a lot of leadership. He had to wrestle three good heavyweights, and he went 3-0. He really stood out at that quad.”
In the RetroRankings poll, Rosewood and Mount Airy are followed at No. 3 by Elkin, a team that the Bears beat last week, then Mitchell and South Davidson.
Mount Airy heads back to Alleghany on Saturday for a 10-team tournament. The teams will wrestle each of four different teams in pool play, with the pool winners then wrestling for the title and the pool runners-up for third place. Several other teams from the area will also be in attendance.