2 wrestlers finish middle school careers undefeated
Published 9:56 am Thursday, February 16, 2023
By Brian Pitts
Elijah Chaffin of Ellis and Aidan Szewczyk of South Davie put the finishing touches on their three-year masterpieces, North Davie’s John Evans represented the third wrestler from Davie County to achieve perfection in 2022-23 and the Tigers walked off with the trophy in the Davie County Invitational at South on Feb. 4.
South piled up 290 points to claim the season-ending middle school tournament. North Davie (264), West Rowan (220) and Ellis (180) were next in the scoring among nine teams.
Eighth graders Szewczyk and Chaffin never lost in their middle school careers. As if that’s not enough, both pinned every opponent they faced this season. Szewczyk went 10-0 in sixth grade, 15-0 as a seventh grader, 17-0 this year and earned most outstanding wrestler among the lower weights.
“He put his final stamp on his middle school career,” South coach Russell Hilton said of his 122-pounder who went 42-0 across three years. “That’s probably the most wins with zero losses in Davie County history because sixth graders have only been able to wrestle for six or seven years.”
Chaffin (172) went 13-0 as an eighth grader and took the MOW award for the upper weights.
“I’m praying he (continues to wrestle at Davie),” Ellis coach Charles Compton said. “He’s very good. For a big guy, he moves his feet very well. I mean, I can compare him to Hunter Testa (Davie’s 44-0 star), but he’s got more height than Hunter. When Elijah gets you in a cradle, you’re not getting out. I tell him all the time: ‘I know you’re a football guy, but you can be something special (on the mat).’”
South produced five champions, including Laz Smith (128), David Hicks (197), Noe Guzman (162) and Bryan Tapia (222). Smith went 3-0 in the tournament to finish his eighth-grade year at 16-1, the only loss coming in overtime.
“Me and Timmy (Allen, assistant coach at N. Davie) both wanted to see Laz and (North’s Brayden Jenkins) in the finals,” Hilton said. Jenkins was defeated in his second match but rallied for third place as he battled through a broken thumb. “That would have been a really good one.”
The semifinals and finals were the signature moments for David Hicks, who went pin-pin to close his eighth-grade season at 15-1.
“That was the best he’s wrestled in his South Davie career,” Hilton said. “I’ve been tough on him all year and it finally clicked. He didn’t wrestle his best against North Davie (late in the regular season). In the semifinals, he had a big, strong kid from West Rowan who was 9-1. In the finals, he had a kid from Greensboro who was 14-0. And David just destroyed both of them.”
Guzman (three pins in the tournament) and Tapia (two pins) finished their seasons at 11-1 and 11-3, respectively – no small thing for two first-year eighth graders.
“Guzman is strong,” Hilton said. “He doesn’t look like he’s 14 years old. He looks like he’s about 30 out there with his full beard. His hard work paid off.
“Tapia gets it. He loves being physical. He’s a football player, so wrestling is only going to help him in football.”
Hilton sent out 25 wrestlers. Xander Proctor (140), Caleb Edwards (162) and Isaiah Leonard (184) finished second, and Anthony Arbiaza (76), Leighton Reavis (108) and Brandon Pastor (184) won the consolations for third.
After having a bumpy seventh-grade season at North, Evans had quite the U-turn. He went 16-0 at 184, including two pins in two tries in the tournament.
“He did a 180 from last year – in school and sports,” North coach Jamey Holt said.
Holt watched five of his boys win gold medals, including Isaac O’Toole (140), Graylan Anderson (92), Hayden Potts (100) and Walker Matthews (252). O’Toole went 12-2 as a seventh grader, the only losses coming outside the county (Starmount, West Rowan).
“He’s tough,” Holt said. “He plays football, but I think wrestling is going to be his thing if he puts the time in and gets in the weight room. He could be a really good one down the road.”
Matthews went 2-1 in the round robin at heavyweight, took first on criteria and finished his eighth-grade season 12-3.
After going 8-6 in the regular season, Anderson turned it up a notch and pinned all three opponents in the tournament.
“It was the best he’s wrestled all year as far as being smart, not putting himself in bad positions and doing things that we’d been working on,” Holt said of the seventh grader. “He’s got a chance to be tough.”
Potts had some hiccups during a 7-6 regular season. But now look – he went 3-0 with two pins in the tournament after getting seeded seventh.
“He turned the corner,” Holt said of the eighth grader. “I said: ‘If you wrestle like the Hayden Potts from last year (when he went 10-0 at 90/98), you can win this thing.’ When he beat (Ellis’) Jack Bost 7-0 in the first round, I knew he came to wrestle. He showed what he can do when he puts his mind to it.”
Holt carried 28 Wildcats to the tournament. Stephen Jacobs (115) and DJ McCaskill (222) finished second, while Taylor Shenberger (122), Jenkins (128) and Jackson Crotts (154) placed third.
The event yielded three champions from Ellis, including Jacob Steelman (115) and Austin Eggers (85). Steelman went 3-0 to close his eighth-grade season at 10-2.
“He listens,” Compton said of Steelman. “He takes everything to heart. If I show something on Monday, the next day he is already using it. Kids like Jacob are a coach’s dream. I think his opponent in the finals was 11-1.”
Eggers, a sixth grader, went 2-0 with a spectacular pin in the finals.
“Austin poured it on when he needed to pour it on,” Compton said after the 85-pounder finished with an 8-4 record. “I love this age because most of them don’t know their opponents’ records. He might have wrestled different in the finals if he’d known that kid was an undefeated eighth grader. Austin wrestled his butt off. I had tears in my eyes (after the pin).”
Compton entered 19 guys, including second-place finishers Tony Velasco (122), Carter Hoots (134) and Luis Salas (252). Bost (100) and Allen Moxley (140) turned in consolation titles.