So close: War Eagle wrestling loses in quarterfinals

Published 9:26 am Thursday, February 7, 2019

The Davie wrestling team’s second round and quarterfinal  matches in the state dual team playoffs had everything – surprises and emotion, wild celebrations and, for the losers, the long, slow, sad walk back to the locker room.

For Davie, there was the thrill of victory against Lake Norman and the agony of defeat against Northwest Guilford, the eventual state champion.

When the smoke cleared, coach Buddy Lowery considered the 32-3 record a great achievement.

“If you’d told me at the beginning of the year we’d end up 32-3, I don’t know if I’d believed you very much,” he said. “The freshmen were a whole lot better than I anticipated. I knew they were good, but they were real good. Five-six weeks ago we said: ‘Hey, we can win the state championship.’ I think we just wished them through some matches. We just needed another weight class (Davie forfeited virtually all year at 195).”


In the first round at Davie on Jan. 30, the War Eagles obliterated Page 42-36, carving out a 42-0 lead before forfeiting out. JT Richards (forfeit), Adam Szewczyk (major decision), Bill Trader (pin), Josh Chaffin (pin), Collin Bailey (pin), Jack Jarvis (major), Isaac Webb (major) and Peyton Sherrill (pin) provided the lopsided margin over the 13-10 Pirates, who lost to Davie 60-18 on Jan. 12.

With the win in the bag, Davie forfeited the final six weight classes and waited on the Lake Norman-Hough winner.


Lake Norman tucked away Hough and met Davie later in the evening. The only time the teams had met was in the Davie Invitational on Nov. 17, when Davie took first place with 180.5 points to runner-up Lake Norman’s 171.

The War Eagles and Wildcats waged a riveting battle. They split 14 weight classes, but thanks to an improbable pin by Tyris Griffin, Davie escaped 36-27 and ended LN’s season at 16-10.

After a LN pin, Trader’s fifth straight pin tied the score at 6. After Timmy Kennett edged Chaffin 9-8, freshman Bailey dropped a 10-0 major decision on a LN junior to give Davie a 10-9 lead. Freshman Jarvis, fresh off an extended stay on the injured list, fell 9-5 to a junior, but another freshman, Webb, knocked off a senior, 5-0 decision, as Davie regained a 13-12 lead.

LN’s Carson Floyd won an 8-6 decision and Bradley Wilson was dominating Griffin at 170. In the third period, Griffin was so, so close to getting pinned, which would have meant a 21-13 lead for the Wildcats.

But just when it looked like Griffin was done, he turned Wilson over and stuck him for a 19-15 Davie lead. Holy mackerel.

“Honestly, I didn’t know what I was going to do,” the junior said. “He had his hand under my back. When he went to rotate to get my shoulders down, that’s when I popped my shoulder out. That’s the only thing I could do, and that’s when I had to roll him. I could have been stuck there. Honestly, I was kind of lucky. He got in a bad position, I rolled over and took him with me. It’s my first year wrestling varsity. I’ve never had a feeling like it.”

Smooth like butter, senior Matthew King followed with a first-period pin. King’s 30th straight win pushed Davie’s lead to 25-15.

“Hey, Matthew is a stud,” Griffin said. “You can always count on him to get six.”

“(Griffin’s pin) hyped me up for my match and made me ready to wrestle,” King said. “I knew I had to get a pin.”

After Davie forfeited at 195, LN bumped up Nathan Dugan to face Jesus Olmedo at 220. It was a colossal matchup. Olmedo was 46-0 with 30 pins, the most wins without a loss in 18 years (Patrick Lowery started 46-0 in 2000-01). Dugan is a Sherman tank, finishing second in the state as a sophomore at 170;  winning the state at 182 as a junior, when his only two losses came against out-of-state opponents; and this year placing fifth in the prestigious Doc Buchanan Invitational in Clovis, Calif.

Dugan major decisioned Olmedo, 13-4, to improve to 48-4. Both guys were nailed a team point for unsportsmanlike conduct after the final horn, so it was 24-24 heading to 285.

Heroics by Andy Flores and Cody Taylor secured Davie’s 23rd straight win and sent it to the quarterfinals for the third straight year.

Flores, the senior heavyweight, burst to a 5-0 first-period lead over Alex Baker and recorded his eighth straight pin in the second. Taylor, a senior at 106, pinned a freshman in the second for an insurmountable 36-24 lead.

“I like the pressure,” Flores said. “I executed better than I even thought I could just because the last few matches I’ve been a little rough. I haven’t reached my peak yet, but it’s time to crank it up a notch.”

Taylor shared the credit after his 29th pin of the season.

“There’s a lot of emotions and feelings that go through my head,” he said. “I don’t want to screw up for my team. I want to do good for my team. It’s exciting. I love the rush. I want to thank everybody else that made good moves. It’s a team sport. It’s not just me. My pin played in, but it’s not just me.”

In a meaningless match at 113, LN junior Kaiden Fisher notched his 40th win by holding off Richards 4-2 and ending the Davie freshman’s 15-match winning streak.

In the giddy aftermath, everyone was talking about Griffin’s incredible moment. It was the wrestling equivalent of a 99-yard pick-6. Although Griffin’s season record is 19-23, he won for the seventh time in nine matches.

Flores: “Tyris came in clutch. He did it.”

Taylor: “I told him before the match: ‘Keep fighting. Lay it all on the line.’”

Quarterfinal Loss

Less than 24 hours later, you’re not going to find a more heartbreaking loss than 30-28 to Northwest Guilford in the final eight at Mooresville on Jan. 31.

The War Eagles turned a 24-12 deficit into a 28-24 lead with one weight class remaining. NWG’s Riley Edwards bailed out the Vikings with a third-period pin, handing Davie its first loss since 45-33 to Mooresville on Dec. 14 and ending Davie’s dual team season.

Sophomores Zane Ducat and James Joplin staked NWG to a 6-0 lead before Chaffin beat Lake Price 9-3 at 132 to get Davie on the board. Junior Shane Chavis and senior Finn Queen countered for NWG at 138 and 145 to create a 15-3 spread.

Davie’s Jarvis decisioned a senior, 8-3, and Webb pinned Dontrey King in the second to cut Davie’s deficit to 15-12. Then NWG seniors Ian Adams and Chris Garrison, who is undefeated, gave the Vikings the 24-12 lead with five weights left.

King (9-5 decision over a 41-5 senior at 195), Olmedo (third-period pin at 220) and Flores (3-2 ultimate overtime decision at 285) picked up the slack to force a tie at 24-24.

Next was Taylor, who major decisioned a freshman to put Davie ahead 28-24.

“We won the coin toss,” Lowery said. “Things were working our way.”

If Edwards major decisioned Richards at 113, it would have tied the score at 28 but wouldn’t have been enough to beat Davie, which held the tiebreaker edge thanks to most first points scored in each match. Edwards had to win by technical fall or pin. He led 2-0 after the first and 7-4 after the second. It seemed as if Davie was going to prevail 28-27, but Edwards, who is 42-1 as a sophomore, pinned at :43.

The twist of the knife was hard and deep at the end, but Lowery stood by the freshman. Six other War Eagles lost; Richards just happened to be the last one on the mat. Richards, with 45 wins as a Davie rookie, is going to be something special. He did well to push Edwards into the third period.

“I loved him up,” Lowery said. “I can’t blame him. He’s trying to pin, trying to win.”

Looking up and down the lineup, a number of others could have changed the agonizing outcome.

“Cody did what he was supposed to. Yeah, we would have liked for him to pin,” he said. “Josh had a chance to get a major. I thought we had it. At 145 we got pinned with 30 seconds left. I thought Jack was going to stick (Nick Nefe). If he had been healthier… Jack wasn’t the healthiest person, doesn’t have his gas tank full. Peyton is wrestling with a torn labrum. King, you’d like to think you can get a major. If you can get a major, you think you can get a pin. Their job was not to get majored or pinned.”


• When the state duals were completed, it was a case of what might have been for Davie. In the semifinals, Northwest and Mooresville were tied at 35-35 at the end of regulation and the Vikings prevailed 36-35 on criteria. Two days later, they rallied past Laney 33-27 for their first ever state championship.

• The War Eagles’ three losses were to top-notch competition. Northwest finished 31-0. Mooresville was a semifinalist. St. Stephens captured the 3-A title by beating Cape Fear 41-25. It was the first ever title for the Indians, who beat Davie 40-27 in November.

• Davie and NWG met in the state playoffs for the sixth time this century. Four of the previous five meetings went Davie’s way, including 38-22 in the second round in 2000, 43-30 in the second round in 2008, 60-13 in the first round in 2010 and 36-25 in the first round in 2017. The loss was 34-30 in the first round in 2013.

• For the third year in a row, Davie went out in woulda-coulda-shoulda fashion. In 2017, Davie lost 31-22 to West Forsyth in the semifinals. In 2018, Davie lost 32-30 to West in the quarterfinals.

• Davie will host the Midwest Regional Friday and Saturday. Olmedo is 47-1 heading into the individual tournament. Richards is 45-5, King 44-5, Taylor 42-4, Trader 38-8, Chaffin 35-9, Bailey 34-12, Webb 33-13, Flores 31-4, Szewczyk 29-11 and Jarvis 24-12. … King owns a 31-match win streak.