South sqeaks past Ellis in mat win

Published 9:49 am Friday, January 19, 2018

South Davie and Ellis waged as good a wrestling match as you’ll see.

South pulled out an exhilarating 42-39 win. With both teams claiming eight weight classes, Ellis came within an eyelash of the long end of the stick.

The best thing about it – Davie County wins again. Buddy Lowery’s War Eagles have not experienced a down cycle since … well, really never in Lowery’s 42-year run, and there probably isn’t going to be one for another several years at the very least.

“When this group of eighth graders – between us, North Davie and Ellis – get with the freshmen we’ve got at Davie right now, it’s going to be something special when they’re juniors and seniors,” South coach Russell Hilton said.


Before the South-Ellis match, the Jaguars took down North Wilkes 53-33 on Jan. 4 at N. Davie. Ellis recorded five pins and won 10 of 16 weights in its first match in 20 days. Lawson Hire, Chase Hilton, Bryson Parker, Ashton Douglas and Mark Dixon had the pins. Jacob Perry and Isaac Webb won major decisions. Charlie Frye won a decision. Will Burris and Keller Frakes received forfeits.

Ellis won an 84-18 snoozer over visiting Lexington on Jan. 9. It got seven pins from Hire, Hilton, Parker, Danny Olmedo, Frakes, Webb and Dixon. Perry, Ethan Deas, Ethan Lunsford, Burris, Frye, Noah Myers and Douglas received seven forfeits.


North Davie wrestled three times in two days, and all three opponents were vastly inferior to the Wildcats.

In a tri-meet at Summit on Jan. 9, they won 69-18 over Wesleyan. Seven pins came from Lane Hill, JT Richards, Blake Jenkins, Hunter Testa, Collin Bailey, Jadon Davis and Brandon Logan. Logan Yokley won a decision. Getting forfeits were Sam Collins, Alex Mackey, Sawyer Sheets and Max Martinez.

Later in the day, North topped Summit 60-24. Hill and Mackey had pins. Richards, Jenkins, Yokley, Bailey, Collins, Davis, Martinez and Logan had forfeits.

A home match against Thomasville on Jan. 10 – a day that saw coach Jamey Holt celebrate the memory of the late Ron Kirk – brought more of the same. With Kirk’s initials on the back of North’s new singlets, the Wildcats shredded Thomasville 88-6.

Hill, Collins, Davis, Sheets, Mackey, Mason Shermer and Martinez had pins. Spencer Melton had a major decision. Tyler Shore, Richards, Jenkins, Yokley, Testa, Bailey and Brysen Godbey had forfeits as North rang up the most points in 41 matches.

The Wildcats are 12-2 with a 12-match winning streak. It’s their longest winning streak since 17 when they went 11-0 in 2012-13 and opened 6-0 in 2013-14. It’s the most wins in nine years. (Kirk’s 2008-09 team went 12-3 behind conference champs Clay Thompson, Logan Hendricks, Toby Lowe, Cole Blankenship and Brandon Joplin.) It’s the longest in-season winning streak in 11 years. (They went 16-0 in 2006-07 when Kirk was led by unbeatens Tyler Lee, Calob Howard, Shelton Sales, Matt Cusack, Collin Ecihorn and Rickie Bell.)

Kirk built a dynasty that lasted 31 years, going 334-34-1 in varsity matches from 1981-2012.

The current club is paced by 12-0 Richards. Hill, Jenkins, Yokley, Bailey and Collins are all 13-1. Davis is 12-2, Logan 11-2 and Mackey 9-2.


When Ellis hosted South on Jan. 11, a thrilling match unfolded. Ellis fell three points short but had nothing to be ashamed of. When the teams met on Dec. 6, South won by 18.

As expected, the Jaguars built an early lead as Hire and Perry produced pins at 83 and 93, respectively, for a 12-0 margin.

“Hire is pretty tough,” Hilton said. “He’s right at 83 pounds. Perry is tough. He’s wrestling up, too. He weighs in at 83 and always wrestles up. Shoot, some matches he’s wrestled at 98.”

Hilton got several heroic efforts, starting with Khamauri Wilson’s 17-15 barnburner over Kevin Morgan at 98.

“It was a high-intensity match,” Hilton said. “Each one was on their back four or five times. Neither kid quit. They both showed a lot of heart. We just happened to be the last one on top. Khamauri wrestled his butt off. It was a heck of a match. At no point did you know who was going to win.”

Another defining moment for South was Anthony Ortiz’s 9-7 win over Hilton at 108.   

“It came down to the wire,” Hilton said. “The match was tied 7-7. Ortiz got a takedown (with a barnyard) with 12 seconds left. It could have gone either way.”

When Parker won a 14-10 decision at 115 and Lunsford pinned at 122, Ellis had pushed its lead back to 21-6.

“Bryson pretty much dominated,” Hilton said of the Jaguar. “He was the more aggressive one. He’s super, super aggressive and he’s got a good double leg.

“Our 122-pounder (Chance Jones) was out sick and Lunsford is a pretty strong kid. There wasn’t much we could do right there.”

Back-and-forth results from 128 through 160 added to the drama. Olmedo pinned for Ellis at 128, but Brian Reyes pinned for South at 134.

“That was a big win,” Hilton said. “I thought that was going to be a closer match. Reyes just got in a good position and capitalized on his chance.”

South got a pin from Seth Johnson at 140. Then came the biggest showdown, an 8-1 Jack Jarvis of South against Webb, an eighth grader who has not lost while wearing an Ellis uniform. Jarvis lost 13-6, but his ability to go the distance and only give up three points proved critical. At this point, Ellis’ lead was 30-18.

“It was the best match of the night,” Hilton said. “Webb dropped down to 147 for this match. Coach (Justin) Perry had a good game plan. He dropped Webb and (Frakes) down because Jack could have pinned anybody else. Jack has the right mindset for wrestling. No matter who it is, he’s ready to go. Jack got the first takedown (and trailed by one after the second period). It’s probably the first time Webb has been taken down. Jack had to fight like crazy not to get pinned. Webb is tough but Jack didn’t back down.”

South’s slim margin of victory was also a testament to Jesus Guzman’s first-period pin at 154. Now it was 30-24 Ellis.

“That match could have gone either way,” Hilton said. “Jesus is a first-year eighth grader. That was another big one for us. I wasn’t too sure we could get the pin or what would happen, but Jesus got after it. He did his job and then some.”

South knew it had a forfeit coming, so Ellis was now clinging to a thread of hope. The Jaguars stayed alive with Frye’s 5-3 overtime win at 160 over Daniel Garcia, who entered at 8-1.

“Charlie wrestled his butt off,” Hilton said. “He was aggressive and tough on top. Charlie has definitely gotten better since the last time we wrestled.”

South’s unbeaten Devonte Lyerly pinned at 172. Then Keith Davis pinned in the second at 184, giving South a 36-33 lead and clinching the win. It was over because Kevin Rosales-Benitez received a forfeit at 220 to make it 42-33.

“I told Keith before he went out: ‘Hey, you pin this guy, it’s over,’” Hilton said. “Keith was definitely one that stepped up. I didn’t know if Keith could beat him or not, but he got it done.”

The match ended on a high note for Ellis, which got a first-period pin from Dixon at heavyweight.

“Mark is a beast,” Hilton said. “He did a double leg and you don’t see that from a big guy very often.”

The Tigers (8-2) celebrated their third straight win over Ellis. Before that streak started last winter, Ellis took 13 straight from South. Ellis slipped to 5-4. But when you add up everything across the county, Davie is set up to keep its dynasty humming for years to come.

“It was a very intense match,” Hilton said. “If they all stay with it, keep pushing each other and have the goal of a state championship, they would win one in three or four years – no doubt. The future is bright for Davie wrestling.”

For South, Lyerly is 10-0 with nine pins. For Ellis, Webb is 9-0 with seven pins and Hire is 6-0 with all pins. Perry and Parker are 8-1. Dixon is 7-1 with seven pins. Lunsford is 5-1.