The final chapters in the illustrious career of Mount Airy wrestler Jacob Hogue are yet to be written.
However, the two-time state champion added another noteworthy achievement to his ledger on Thursday night, when he faced one of the biggest challenges of his career on Senior Night in the school’s old middle-school gym.
Hogue, who joined fellow Granite Bear seniors Cody Smith and Gray Stone in being honored between matches of the tri-meet with North Stokes and Galax, had by far the toughest assignment of any Mount Airy wrestler on a night when the Bears rolled to team victories by margins of 78-6 over the Vikings and 74-4 over the Maroon Tide.
In the third individual match of the showdown between Mount Airy and Galax, Hogue, a 2015 and 2016 North Carolina 1A state champion, took on Joshua Spurlin, the 2016 Virginia 1A state champion at 126 pounds. Hogue claimed a 2-1 victory in a match that went the distance and was every bit that close — a meeting of champions that lived up to its billing.
The Bears and Tide agreed to open the match at the 120-pound weight class. Galax conceded to Luis Osorno, but then picked up a major-decision win at 126 to make the team score 6-4. At 132, Hogue and Spurlin squared off.
The two began in the neutral position and stayed there throughout the entire first period, neither wrestler able to take down the other or even come particularly close to doing so. The deadlock continued into the second period, in which Spurlin opened on top. He was able to keep Hogue in his grasp for the first 45 seconds of the period, at which point the two grapplers took each other out of the circle.
Coming out of the break, Hogue aggressively went for a reversal, and six seconds later, completed the move and scored the first two points of the match. Spurlin responded just as smartly, and within another 25 seconds, made good his escape. The two ended the second period on their feet, with Hogue on top 2-1.
In period three, the two wrestlers spent virtually the entire two minutes on the mat, each locked on to some part of their opponent. It was clear that any sort of takedown would probably decide things, and twice in the final minute, Spurlin looked like he might succeed in covering Hogue. However, the Bear wrestler maintained a degree of control of his own, and in the final 20 seconds, steadfastly held his grasp on Spurlin until the final buzzer, and did so without resorting to stall tactics.
Nearly everyone in the crowd knew this had been a meeting of reigning champions, and they were up on their feet at the end, appreciative of the show the two had put on. The win made Hogue a perfect 40-0 this season and 168-9 for his career.
After that, there was only one other individual match against Galax that didn’t end in forfeit or pin. Johnny Dollyhigh won the 138-pound weight class by a technical fall. Chris Butera (145), Austin Tumbarello (152), Jesus Luna (160), Eric Olvera (182), Gray Stone (285) and Barron Pilson (106) all won by pin. Picking up forfeits were John Bennett (170), Smith (195), Josh Holmes (220), and Daniel Olvera (113).
Although the final scores were similar, the Galax match was more competitive than the one with North Stokes, but the latter was most important as it counts toward the Northwest 1A Conference standings. However, seven individual matches against the Vikings ended in first-period pins. Pilson,(106), Hogue (126), Dollyhigh (138), Butera (145), Tumbarello (152), Bennett (170) and Eric Olvera (182) all made short work of their opponents. Smith, at 195, scored a second-period pin in his match, which coupled with his forfeit against Galax gives him a 38-2 record this season and 142 career victories. Daniel Olvera (113), Osorno (120), Joan Ramirez (132), Luna (160) and Stone (285) all claimed forfeits.
In the middle match of the event, Galax beat North Stokes 32-27. Prior to that match, Bear coach Cody Atkins honored his three seniors and their families. All three are currently ranked in the state top 10 in their respective weight classes, with Hogue and Smith each holding the top spot and Stone rated 10th. The trio have a combined 382 career victories for the Bears after the completion of Thursday night’s meet.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.