Middle school wrestlers notch historic pins

Published 1:22 pm Tuesday, December 5, 2023

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By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

For the 32nd time in 42 years, North Davie’s wrestling team reached double-figure victories. The Wildcats climbed to 10-1 with three wins in four days last week.

The question now: Can they continue their outstanding season without Jaden Dillard, who suffered a season-ending injury on Nov. 29. He turned into a freaking buzzsaw as an eighth grader, going 10-0. But North won’t have its 170-pounder in the last week of the regular season and the conference tournament.

“He’s stout,” North coach Jamey Holt said. “As a sixth grader, he broke his leg and he couldn’t do anything his sixth-grade year. Timmy (Allen) talked him into coming out last year. He’s starting to catch on and he’s strong as an ox.”

ND 52, Moor 51

North pulled out a thrilling home win over Mooresville on Nov. 27. The Wildcats held a 46-33 lead with four weight classes remaining, but they found themselves trailing 51-46 after losing at 182, 195 and 220.

The last man up for North was heavyweight DJ McCaskill, and the big fella saved the day with a pin.

“He went out there and got right after the kid,” Holt said. “DJ has some size, strength and leverage that he uses well. It definitely helps having him back out there (after he missed five matches between Oct. 30-Nov. 13).”

North also got pins from Dominic Ishuin (83), Jacob Sides (120), Taylor Shenberger (138), Jack Greer (145), Isaac O’Toole (152) and Peyton Jordan (160). Travis Duggins delivered a major decision at 90 as North barely overcame the loss of Chris Gonzalez, who was out sick.

“That’s a 12-point swing,” Holt said of the missing piece at 76.

Yes, McCaskill clinched it, but no one stood taller than Sides, who turned in what proved to be a critical pin at 120.

“He was up 14 on bottom and ended up taking the kid to his back and pinned him,” Holt said. “If he only gets a technical fall there, we lose on criteria with it being 51-51.”

ND 84, Thomasville 12

One day later on the road, the Wildcats tore through Thomasville. The pinners were Ishuin (83), Duggins (90), Graylan Anderson (106), Preston Young (113), Sides (120), Kolby Long (126), Shenberger (138) and O’Toole (152). The Bulldogs gifted six forfeits.

ND 84, Burke 22

At Selma Burke on Nov. 30, the Wildcats had an easy time extending their winning streak to nine. Ishuin, Duggins, Anderson, Young, Sides, Long, Jason Riddle, Greer and O’Toole had the pins, and the Bears forfeited five weights.

O’Toole and Ishuin are both carrying 11-0 records.

Ellis 54, SD 48

Although South Davie dropped to 2-8 at Ellis on Nov. 27, the Tigers battled valiantly.

South had a chance to pull the upset thanks to pins from Colten Beck (83), Rico Evans (90), KJ McClelland (106), Dreighton Lunnerman (132), Caleb Edwards (152), Jason Voss (160), Kylan Dulin (170) and Brandon Paster (195).

Getting pins for Ellis were Grayson Daugherty, Daniel Hennessey, Allen Moxley, Henry Butler and Brodie Newman. Jackson Strader and Garrett Whitaker won decisions.

“Last time (when Ellis beat South 57-46 on Nov. 6), we were missing Rico Evans and I had to bump Colten up,” South coach Russell Hilton said of Beck’s pin at 83. “This is one weight class that we lost last time.”

Dulin’s pin at 170 was huge.

“Kylan did not come out until the third or fourth match,” Hilton said. “He’s had a couple of forfeits and he was sick, too. I think this was his first actual match.”

The Jaguars won for the sixth time in seven matches because they took two close decisions (6-4 and 12-11). While it hurt to fall short, Hilton loved the excitement of two county rivals going back and forth.

“Three of the ones we lost were really close matches that could’ve gone either way,” Hilton said. “That’s how this year has gone. Things just have not gone our way this year for a number of different reasons. But you can’t ask for more. Yeah, I want to win, but these close matches are fun and it’s exciting. This was probably the hardest we have wrestled all year.”

SD 84, Burke 12

Elijah Tatum (98), McClelland (106), Noah Neagle (113), Zion Lyons (120), Lunnerman (126), Xander Proctor (145), Edwards (152) and Paster (182) stuck their opponents as South curbed a three-match slide at Selma Burke on Nov. 29.

“There were 12 actual matches and we won 10 of those,” Hilton said. “That is the best we have wrestled in a while.”

Cameron Billenstein (76) and Evans (90) won decisions, and no one had a better pin than Lyons at 120.

“Cameron’s my backup and he beat a pretty good kid 8-7,” Hilton said. “That’s the best he has wrestled. He has worked hard. He’s got it mentally. He’s a first-year kid, but he’s a very smart kid and he understands wrestling at a high-level. The wrestling part is coming, but he knows what he should be doing.

“(Evans) beat a tough kid and it wasn’t as close as the score. Zion probably wrestled their toughest kid and he was winning 9-1 and then pinned him. He wrestled really well; that kid was strong.”

SD 54, Moor 51

After digging a 39-18 deficit, the Tigers rallied to win a grueling match at Mooresville on Nov. 30.

The contest began at 220. Pins by Lunnerman (132) and Proctor (145) sparked the comeback. After Mooresville handed over three forfeits, South was down 51-48 with one weight class to go.

With the outcome hanging in the balance, the undefeated Paster  did not disappoint. He pinned his 195-pound counterpart and South (4-8) celebrated a well-deserved victory.

“We needed at least a major,” Hilton said. “Brandon had a 5-0 lead early. He’s an eighth grader and he’s been doing it for three years. He’s the quiet, laidback one. I try to get him more pumped up, but that is not his style. I felt confident having him in that situation. Everybody knew we were about to win.”

Billenstein, Beck and Evans had the other pins. Lyons was a 10-4 loser at 126, but he deserves some credit for South’s triumph.

“Lyons not getting pinned was a lot of the difference in the match,” Hilton said. “If he gets pinned, it’s 54-54, it comes down to criteria and we would’ve lost.”

Notes: When Ellis hosted Mooresville on Nov. 29, it lost for just the second time in eight matches. … West Rowan had too many matches on the schedule, so the Bulldogs had to forfeit the match at Ellis that was set for Nov. 30. That lifted Ellis’ record to 7-4.