South wrestlers finally beat ND

Published 9:39 am Thursday, January 14, 2016

South Davie wrestling coach Perry Long had been looking for a signature win for a long time. It took Long and the Tigers seven years to get it, but thanks to Kenneth Lee’s huge win at 145 and Darrin Jefferson’s refusal to go down at 85, the Tigers pulled out one of the best middle-school matches you will ever see, beating North Davie 48-40 on Jan. 8.

South headed into the match at North with one mission: Exorcise the demons. South had lost 12 straight in the series. This was the first win over the Wildcats since 2008-09.

“The kids were really focussed before the match,” South coach Perry Long said. “That’s a long seven years of getting drubbed. For the sixth graders that came to the match and the seventh graders on this team, that’s a turning point for South Davie wrestling.”

SD Beats EW

South had no trouble with visiting East Wilkes on Dec. 17, winning 60-30. It got pins from Jefferson, Armando Garcia, Adrian Romero, Tyris Griffin, Lee, Avery Taylor, Bryan Pastor and Jose Ramirez. Chase Robertson and Adam Szewczyk had forfeit wins.

SD Beats T’ville

The Tigers hung on for a 54-41 decision over visiting Thomasville on Jan. 17 in their first match in 21 days.

Even though South built leads of 24-6 and 42-23, it was a bit of a struggle. South claimed eight weight classes, while the Bulldogs took seven.

Jefferson’s pin, Robertson’s forfeit, Szewczyk’s pin and Garcia’s pin gave South the 24-6 lead. In his varsity debut, eighth-grader Jacob Meadows won by disqualification at 132. Meadows was in control before his opponent was disqualified.

“He locked hands too many times and put in a full nelson,” South assistant Russell Hilton said. “Jacob was winning the whole time. We didn’t have anybody at 160, so we put Jacob in the lineup at 132 and bumped everybody else up so we could get an extra person in the lineup.”

Long had this to say: “This is Jacob’s first year ever wrestling. We didn’t want to put him out there until we felt like he could compete, just for confidence purposes. And he wrestled hard.”

Pins by Griffin, Lee and Ramirez put the margin out of reach at 48-29. After Thomasville received forfeits at 182 and 220, Bishop Norman iced the win with a pin in his season debut at heavyweight.

Griffin, Lee and Garcia improved their records to 7-0.

“Griffin is a cousin of the Olmedo brothers (on Davie’s wrestling team),” Long said. “Lee (a first-year eighth grader) is tough. Garcia is tough. He goes hard. He works really hard.”

SD Beats ND

This season has become a feel-good story for the Tigers, who barely prevailed over North Davie to reach 7-1 for the first time in seven years.

The 2008-09 team started 7-1 behind eventual conference champions Colton Orrell, Caleb Mathis, Nathan Howard, Lance LaRoque, Russell Anthony, Jamal Lackey and Stephon Smoot.

North’s 12-match winning streak in the series included last year’s 72-18 rout. The average margin of victory during the streak was a whopping 49.

South flipped the script by edging North (5-2) in weight-class wins (eight to seven) and pins (six to five).

“My kids were ready to wrestle,” Long said. “They fought hard, man. We knew it was going to be a battle. I told them they were going to have to dig down deep, and when we get to our back, be willing to fight off of it. And when we get somebody on their back, let’s stick ‘em. I’m going to tell you, they responded.”

The teams stared down each other in a thriller for the ages. Neither team won more than two matches in a row. South’s largest lead was eight at 24-16, 42-34 and 48-40. North’s biggest lead was six at 12-6.

“That was a North-South classic,” Long said. “We couldn’t hold the lead. They came back and took the lead. We were battling back and forth.”

South got pins from Szewczyk (92), Garcia (113), Ivan Poag (122), Romero (132), Lee (145) and Ramirez (184). South’s Pastor won by forfeit at 172. Meanwhile, North got pins from Victor Perez (100), Brandon Newcomer (108), Logan Ballou-Tomel (138), David Felts (152) and Joe Johnson (162). North’s John Motley won a major decision at 126, and Josh Wright won by forfeit at 197.

Lee drew special praise for his pin at 145 over one of North’s main weapons.

“He wrestled as good as you could want him to wrestle,” Long said. “That match was a big deciding factor. Lee’s unreal strong. He’s one of the strongest kids I’ve had in a long time. He’s a first-year wrestler, but that’s a kid if he stays with the sport at the high school, he will be tough. He will work hard for you.”

Ballou-Tomel had perhaps North’s biggest win at 138, getting a late pin over Griffin, who came in 7-0.

“I lost one I wasn’t expecting to lose,” Long said. “We couldn’t get Griffin’s nose to stop bleeding. We wrapped it up. He ended up getting pinned in the last few seconds.”

After the teams had double forfeits at 222 and 250, South’s lead was 42-40 and everything boiled down to the final match at 85. It was South’s Jefferson against North’s Jason Wishon. It didn’t look good for South when the second period ended, with Wishon leading 12-5. But Wishon suffered an injury and had to pull out, giving Jefferson a win by injury default.

Jefferson improved to 7-1 and South had its first win in the series since a 57-30 decision at North in 2008-09.

“That’s a tough way for them to lose,” Hilton said.

“They didn’t know if he had a concussion or not,” Long said. “I wish the kid could have finished the match.”

If Jefferson doesn’t demonstrate perseverance during the first two periods, South doesn’t survive the epic battle.

“That cat is tough,” Long said. “He was down point-wise, but he wasn’t willing to quit. He was on his back twice in the first two periods. He fought off his back both times. One time he reversed and had a chance to put (Wishon) on his back.”

Now the Tigers will look to end another long streak. Ellis has won 11 straight over South.

“We’ve still got some tough matches to go,” Long said. “We can’t be satisfied. But we did wrestle big (against North).”