DOBSON — Kaleb Dunn and David Peña hope they have a lot more wrestling left to do in their senior seasons, but they were both grateful to come out with victories both for themselves, and for their Surry Central team, during Tuesday’s Senior Night at the Golden Eagles’ gym.
Dunn, Peña and fellow seniors Chase Boone and Tyler Whitaker were honored before the Western Piedmont Athletic Conference showdown with West Stokes, in which the Golden Eagles had to forfeit a few of the lower weight classes and fell behind 24-6 before storming back down the stretch for a 54-30 victory.
The four seniors were introduced by head coach Stephen Priddy, along with their families. Priddy spoke about each senior and his contributions to the program, and each of the four was also presented with a photo fram filled with highlights of his career with the Golden Eagles. For Dunn, who is ranked No. 1 in the state at 220 pounds, and Peña, who is ranked second at 285, there was mention of their state championship hopes. At last year’s state individual duals, Dunn (126-18 for his career after Tuesday night) finished fifth overall and Peña (91-19) third.
Three of the four seniors got to wrestle on Tuesday night, but not for long. Dunn’s match ended after 91 seconds, by which time he had already run up a 7-0 lead against Avery Lawing on a takedown and two near-falls. Pena’s victory came even quicker, as he took a little longer to get Devin Newsome to the mat, but then almost immediately caught him on his back and finished off the win in just 68 seconds.
Whitaker wrestled in the 160-pound match, and his match was important in the sense that Central still trailed 30-18 when it took place. While the Eagles were still confident they would win, they also knew they had some work to do. Whitaker was busy from the start, scoring two takedowns and a near-fall in the first period against West’s Eric Sink while allowing just two escapes. In the second period, Sink tried to rally, starting from the down position and scoring his third escape, then a takedown of his own to reduce Whitaker’s lead to 7-5. However, there was no denying Whitaker on ‘his’ night, and he soon turned the tables, earning a reversal and then finally pinning Sink to the mat with 36 seconds left in the second period.
Whitaker’s win pulled the Eagles to within six points. Boone actually had the honor of tying the match, but didn’t get to wrestle, as the Wildcats handed him a forfeit at 170. Forrest Antwine stepped onto the mat at 182 and likewise received a forfeit, as did Michael Branch at 195. Surry Central now led 42-30, and only Dunn and Peña remained to wrestle. The only way West Stokes could even tie the match would have been to pin them both. Seeing as how the former entered the night at 23-0 and the latter at 20-1, this wasn’t going to happen.
The match started at 106 pounds. Casey Hutchins started things off on the right note for the Eagles, receiving a forfeit. However, the 113-pound match didn’t go the way Central hoped. This one pitted the Eagles’ Ethan Leonard with the Wildcats’ Austin Francis, and it appeared to be a very even match at the start. In the first period, the lead changed hands twice, as Leonard opened with a takedown, but Francis later scored an escape and then a takedown of his own to lead 3-2 after one. However, in the second period, Leonard couldn’t get an escape and was eventually turned and pinned.
Surry Central had to forfeit at 120 and 126 pounds, which handed wins to Victor Moore and Zachary Watts, respectively. At 132, the Wildcats won again when Evan Wall got the upper hand on the the Eagles’ Tanner Boone and earned a pin in the middle of the second period. This gave West Stokes its largest lead, at 24-6.
At 138, Central’s Angel Alvarez wrestled the only match of the night that went to a third period. The outcome was never in doubt, as West’s Garrett Lowe was simply fighting to avoid being pinned. The score was 14-3 in Alvarez’ favor when he finally got Lowe pinned after 40 seconds of the final period.
The Eagles’ Marvin Hernandez received a forfeit at 145, but the Wildcats’ Noah Hall scored a pin over Central’s Matthew White at 152 to give West a 30-18 lead.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.