West spoils Davie wrestling title hopes

Published 9:10 am Thursday, February 8, 2018

Davie’s wrestling team was so close to clinching a win over West Forsyth and advancing to the Western Regional final. In the regional semifinals against the Titans, the War Eagles led 30-10 with four weight classes to go. They had built leads of 17-0 and 26-7. When it was 30-10, they only needed to avoid two pins down the stretch.

They could not. They lost 32-30.

The War Eagles will spend days if not months wondering how this one got away. The cold truth is that West snatched it from them with three pins and a major decision at 138, 145, 152 and 160.

“We thought we were going to have enough (points) at that point and just stay off our back,” Davie coach Buddy Lowery said.


Davie defeated Myers Park and Hough in the first two rounds of the 4-A state dual team playoffs. Davie hosted the four-team meet on Jan. 30.

The War Eagles rose to 36-3 for the season and to 64-26 in the state duals’ 29-year history, but it wasn’t easy.

In a 43-30 win over Myers Park (9-9), Davie dropped four of the first five weight classes to fall behind 21-6. Josh Chaffin’s forfeit win in the first match at 132 was Davie’s only points in the early going. Hunter Strickland (pin at 170), Matthew King (2-1 decision at 182), Bryson Hunter (pin at 220), Anthony Olmedo (pin at 285), Cody Taylor (pin at 106) and Josh Shore (11-2 major decision at 113) bailed out the War Eagles.

Strickland’s pin ignited a 37-3 run. When Nick Gillis received a forfeit at 120 to give Davie a 43-24 lead, it had won seven of eight. With the outcome decided, Davie forfeited at 126.

Later in the night in the second round against Hough, Davie endured another bumpy start before winning 33-31.

The Huskies (17-5) claimed three of the first four matches to take a 12-3 lead. Peyton Sherrill’s 6-2 decision in the first match at 138 gave Davie a short-lived 3-0 lead.

Again, Strickland and Co. would let Davie lose. When Strickland pinned at 170, Davie was about to embark on a 30-4 run. King (9-2 decision at 182), Hunter (3-1 decision at 195), Olmedo (forfeit at 220) and Andy Flores (forfeit at heavyweight) sent Davie in front 27-12. When Shore received a forfeit at 113, Davie had rattled off six wins in seven tries. With a 33-19 lead, Davie forfeited out at 126 and 132.


When Davie and West Forsyth met in Clemmons on Jan. 3, the War Eagles took 11 of 14 weight classes and obliterated West 54-9. But former Davie assistant and first-year West coach Jason Hooker hauled a vastly different team to Davie on Feb. 1 for the state quarterfinals.

Six Titans who lost on Jan. 3 did not wrestle in the rematch. Seven Titans who did not wrestle Jan. 3 – due to sickness or injuries – were on the mat for the rematch, and five of them were victorious. The five: Mike Dalton (42-3 record) at 106, Andres Perez (35-11) at 145, Preston Broadus (34-5) at 152, Tyler O’Neil (20-5) at 160 and Patrick Harding (17-2) at 285. The five had a combined 148-26 record following the Davie match.

“It’s been a very tough year for wrestling in our area in general,” Hooker, who guided Ellis Middle for seven years (2007-08 through 2013-14) before serving as a Davie assistant the past three years, told the Winston-Salem Journal. “Our kids have been through a lot of adversity. They fought through and they’ve persevered.”

“It’s been really tough,” Perez told the Journal. “More internal problems than external with guys quitting on the team. They just didn’t believe in us.”

In the first match at 170, Strickland (22-3) ran his winning streak to 10 with a 9-1 major decision. King (35-9) followed with a major decision of his own, 16-6. Then Hunter (37-8) pulled out a tossup match, 5-4, over Matt Gutierrez, who defeated Hunter 7-3 on Jan. 3. When Olmedo (46-2) pinned his Titan in the first period for his 37th consecutive win, Davie held a 17-0 advantage.

West’s Harding won 6-0 over Flores, who just returned from an appendicitis, and West’s Dalton picked up an 11-2 major decision at 106. Then Davie resumed scorching the Titans, with Shore (38-8) winning an 11-6 decision at 113 and Gillis (43-5) pinning at 120. West’s Ethan Wright squeezed out a 2-1 decision at 126, but Davie’s Chaffin (37-12) pounded out a 14-2 major decision at 132.

It had lined up perfectly for the War Eagles. They had the 30-10 lead. They were dreaming of a win over the Northwest Guilford-Lake Norman survivor later in the night and a trip to the state championship two days later.

West was dead (or at least it looked that way). Ah, but the stunning turn of fate down the stretch is why coaches scream that the game/match isn’t over until it’s over.

“Coming down to the last four matches, the coaches huddled us up and said: ‘You know what, we need at least three pins and one major,’” O’Neil told the Journal. “And we delivered.”

Eli Muckelvene pinned in the second period at 138. Perez, who led 7-6 after a wild first period, pinned in the second at 145. Broadus pinned in the first at 152.

When O’Neil hit the mat at 160, Davie’s lead had been chopped to 30-28 and everything hinged on the outcome at 160. O’Neil came through with a 9-1 major decision.

“It felt great to be apart of this team and just do what everybody said we couldn’t do with all the stuff that’s happened with our new coaches and stuff like that,” Perez told the Journal. “It felt good to finally prove all those people wrong.”

“Part of being a captain and part of being an upperclassman on the team is you’ve got to set that example for the other guys,” O’Neil told the Journal. “It’s not over til it’s over. You wrestle every second.”

Although the teams split 14 weight classes, West’s 22-0 run from 138 through 160 dealt Davie (36-4) its first loss to a 4-A team all season. West’s full-strength lineup for the rematch turned the showdown into a tossup. It was a tremendous victory for the 24-9 Titans, who have done more than anyone anticipated. This made them 6-0 since the first Davie match. Two days earlier in the second round, they upset Ragsdale 36-30 after losing to Ragsdale 34-33 in the regular season. They persevered through four straight losses, five losses in six matches and seven losses in 11 matches.

While pandemonium erupted around the West bench, shock and numbness filled the Davie side of the gym. The magnitude of the moment made it especially gut-wrenching for the War Eagles. This wasn’t their first tough loss to West. Last year they lost 31-22 at West in the Western Regional final. West went on to beat Laney for its second straight dual team title.

“They’re better than us right through the gut,” Lowery said. “It came down to the coin toss, because they were able to move Harding to heavyweight where he’s (regularly) a 220. It’s one of those things. We wrestled hard. They wrestled hard. It was a good one.”

Davie’s season will be remembered for what could have been due to injuries. Jesus Olmedo and Crayton Wise were sidelined all year. Colby Shore suffered a season-ending knee injury in January. But as a coach once said, “That’s the old ‘iffin game.”


After beating Davie, the Titans crushed Northwest Guilford in the regional final, 39-27. It carved out a 39-9 lead before forfeiting the final three matches.


Although the Titans did not achieve a three-peat – they fell short 38-32 to unbeaten Cary Saturday in the dual team final at The Fieldhouse at Greensboro Coliseum – they still enjoyed an unforgettable run.

It was an absolute barnburner. West faced a 32-23 deficit before Evan LaBella pinned at 120 to make it 32-29. Wright helped fuel the dramatic comeback with an ultimate overtime victory to tie things at 32.

The Titans (25-10) didn’t have enough magic left, however. Cary senior Conrad Schiess pinned freshman Kyle Perkins in the final match, securing the ninth dual team title for the Imps (21-0).

“It was tough,” Hooker told the Journal. “We started where we wanted to start. We just came up short.”