Davie wrestlers gobble the competition at classic

Published 2:33 pm Tuesday, November 28, 2023

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By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

After starting 7-0 in dual team matches, Davie’s wrestling team rolled the competition in its first tournament action of the season.

In the Black Knight Gobbler Classic at North Davidson on Nov. 22, the War Eagles produced eight champions, piled up 270 points and outdistanced the runner-up by 81 points. Southeast Guilford had 189, followed by Oak Grove (107.5), Morehead (97.5), Northern Guilford (92.5), West Davidson (92), North Davidson (90) and East Wilkes (71).

“It was a tournament where we could put multiple people in different weights,” coach Josh Stanley said. “It was the first tournament like that for us, so it was fun.”

Freshman Stephen Jacobs (3-0 at 113), junior Cayden Glass (3-0 at 120), sophomore Tiaj Thao (3-0 at 126), sophomore Andy Davis (3-0 at 138), junior Brett Foster (4-0 at 144), senior Hunter Testa (4-0 at 175), senior Brysen Godbey (4-0 at 215) and junior Ryder Strickland (3-0 at 285) claimed first places in their weight classes.

Foster’s 11-0 record is absolutely absurd when you consider this is his first season on the mat since his eighth-grade year at North Davie. He missed the past two years with injuries. Stanley had a semi-gripe about how Foster has made short work of everybody so far. While some War Eagles make sure they get in some calisthenics  before putting away their foe, Foster has simply refused to go six minutes while recording 10 pins and a forfeit.

“I told him to string the match out a little bit and let’s get his gas tank right,” Stanley said with a laugh. “He’s not one to let guys hang around. He likes to go Mike Tyson-mode and go for the home run swing. Some will work on softening guys up and work on their stuff. That’s something I’m trying to get Brett to do. Go out there and knock some rust off. Go out there and get some minutes on the mat is what I would like to see, but Buddy Lowery (Davie’s coach from 1976-2019) does not like that, either. He would tell him to pin and get out of there.”

Testa is also 11-0. At North Davidson, he had three pins and a major decision, the latter marking the first time this season he has not produced six points. But that major was over an elite freshman from Northern Guilford, Jack Harty.

“Harty is the Greensboro College coach’s son and he’s a big-time kid,” Stanley said. “I think he’s been at 165 and I was not expecting him at 175. It looks like he was chasing Hunter, which is amazing and is something we want to see more of. He looks like a college kid. He went out smiling against Hunter and Hunter was in a dogfight. If the kid was a little older, he probably hangs a little more, but Hunter is just on a tear. He got the guy tired and kind of did what he wanted to do. (Harty) wanted it, he’s a scrapper, so that was a fun one to see. It’s the first time Hunter has been pushed at all.”

Another marquee win came from Glass, who decisioned a defending state champ from Morehead in the finals. Eli Horton won the state as a freshman at 106, but Glass proved too much and moved to 9-0 on the season.

“(Glass and Horton) train together a lot and we knew that was going to be a scrappy one,” Stanley said. “Cayden beat another tough kid, too. If we had anybody that had to wrestle, it was probably Cayden.”

There’s no shortage of gaudy numbers in Davie’s lineup. Jacobs is 7-1 with seven straight pins.

“He’s put in a lot of work, wrestling a lot of club stuff,” Stanley said. “He has probably proven more to himself than he has to us. He is finally realizing he belongs out there. (Moving him down a weight class) might be something we look at when (106) turns to 108.”

Thao is 8-0 with eight pins as sophomore.

“He’s at the point where he’s teaching a lot in the room,” Stanley said. “He’s helping guys and girls. He hasn’t been thrown to the wolves too bad yet. Last year he was at 113. We’re worried about his strength level at 126, so that has kind of yet to be seen. But he is doing it right now.”

Davis is 10-0 as a sophomore.

“Nobody really knows about him yet, but he can wrestle at the state level,” Stanley said. “He faced the first adversity he has seen (in the finals), but he broke it open and that’s obviously what we wanted to see.”

With three pins at N. Davidson, Godbey is off to a 10-1 start at 215.

“He’s an athlete – it’s just about his approach to the match a lot of times,” Stanley said. “He wrestled a kid from North Davidson, and the first time (on Nov. 18) it was a close match. This time he put it on him pretty good, just because he was not rolling around on top. Brysen is a good takedown kid. If he takes you down and does not get caught in junk rolling around on the mat, he’s pretty hard to beat.”

After pinning two of three guys in Welcome, Strickland is 10-0 at heavyweight.

“Football does a lot for his confidence and strength,” Stanley said. “Everything goes back to football for him. You see a swagger about him. He had a big overtime win that was a test for him. He had not been in a full match in a long time. To be a successful heavyweight, you need to win those 2-1 matches and those overtime matches and he is showing that.”

No one in the room has a tougher practice partner than Strickland, who often tangles with assistant Caleb Spurlin, one of two three-time state champs on the coaching staff.

“Caleb has been putting it on him a little bit, and Ryder’s enjoying having him as a partner,” Stanley said. With a laugh, Stanley added: “I think (Spurlin goes 100 percent) in bursts. He’s a grown man on Ryder, so Ryder is trying to catch him. But you’ll see Ryder get in on him and you’ll see coach having to turn it up.”

When Spurlin was asked about the practice sessions, he said:  “I’m trying to get Ryder in positions where he can excel. There’s a time where you want to beat on them and give them a harder look. You want to get them in positions they’re going to be in in matches and understand them. I’m making him work for it. You just can’t give it to them in spurts; I definitely go hard.”

Davie placed 10 guys in the finals as sophomore Elliott Gould (2-1 at 157) and freshman Kelly Gannon (2-1 at 113) finished second. Finishing third were freshman Jack Bost (4-1 at 106), sophomore Jamarius Pelote (4-1 at 150) and senior Luke Tehandon (4-1 at 126). Sophomore Braxton Hunter (132) and sophomore Maddox Creason (175) both went 2-2.