Davie beats defending state wrestling champs

Published 2:25 pm Tuesday, December 19, 2023

By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

The humbling seven-point loss to West Rowan seemed like ancient history when Davie’s wrestling team knocked off Foard in the powerhouse program’s gym on Dec. 12.

After failing to meet the challenge against West, the War Eagles were intent on getting better. Five days later, they got their swag back by dispatching a program that has captured four of the last 10 state dual titles in 3-A (2014, 2016, 2022, 2023).

“We looked better,” coach Josh Stanley said of the 40-30 win over the Tigers. “We are growing and you can see the things coming through that we are trying to teach. West Rowan maybe showed us some issues we were having.”

Davie wrestled three matches at Foard. Bandys and East Gaston got bullied by the War Eagles.

The first one was a 51-13 win over Bandys. Davie rolled up four pins (Aidan Szewczyk, Tiaj Thao, Brett Foster and Jerred Alexander), three major decisions (Stephen Jacobs, Elliott Gould and Hunter Testa) and three decisions (Jamarius Pelote, Brysen Godbey and Ryder Strickland).

Then came the test against an elite program.

“It was intense,” Stanley said. “It was a barnburner, that’s for sure.”

Szewczyk (pin at 113), Cayden Glass (major at 120) and Thao (decision at 126) got Davie off to a flying start at 13-0. Then it was the Tigers’ turn to cheer. They took five of six weight classes from 132-165 to put Davie in a 27-16 hole, the only exception being Foster’s 4-3 decision at 144.

“We did not have Andy Davis, and Andy is pretty tough,” Stanley said. “It was a little hard to overcome that. They are a good team. They’ve won like nine state titles, (counting the state individual tournament) in recent history. They’ve  had a really good middle school program feeding them, a system like you would not believe.”

With the pressure on, Testa, Godbey, Strickland and Jacobs provided electric wins down the stretch. Testa got a 24-3 run going with a first-period pin.

“(Foard’s 175-pounder) is a tough kid, but he’s young,” Stanley said. “The way that Hunter is going, I’d hate to be standing across from Hunter myself.”

After Foard won a decision at 190, Godbey pinned his 215 opponent in the first period to pull Davie within 30-28.

“Brysen is coming on strong, and when he has confidence, he is hard to beat,” Stanley said. “In  those duals, you build confidence knowing the team is rallying behind you. I knew he was going to take care of business.”

Davie completed the comeback when Strickland pinned in the second period.

“Heavyweight is always scary – big bodies flying around out there – but I feel like Ryder is getting in shape now,” Stanley said. “He’s been in the fire a little bit and I feel like he outlasted that guy. He softened him up and kept grinding on him.”

With one match to go, the War Eagles were leading 34-30. They needed their 106-pound freshman to put Foard away. Jacobs wasted little time answering the bell, pinning in the first.

“I talked to him about enjoying the moment,” Stanley said. “When I came up, we did not draw weight classes. It’s a dream; it’s kind of like the walk-off homer run. It’s a dream for a little guy because we never got (the chance to close a match). I told him: ‘You never know if you’ll get this shot again, so enjoy the moment.’ (After the pin), he was flexing at the coaches and we were flexing back at him. He’s worked really hard to get down to weight, so it was really, really cool to see. He’s going to go up a level from this, you can see it.”

Davie’s third match of the night was a smooth glide, 66-15 over East Gaston. Glass, Thao, Foster, Testa, Christian Boswell, Jacobs and Szewczyk pinned their Warriors and Davie accepted four forfeits to post the finest record through 13 matches (12-1) in six years.

Two days later, the War Eagles had a Central Piedmont Conference cakewalk at Reagan. Rocking out 12 pins were Jacobs, Leighton Reavis, Thao, Reid Nail, Davis, Foster, Gould, Pelote, Testa, Boswell, Godbey and Strickland. It was a cool moment for Reavis, a freshman who pinned in his varsity debut.

Alexander got a decision as Davie captured 13 of 14 weight classes and improved to 3-0 in the league.

Notes: Glass (18-0), Testa (18-0)  and Szewczyk (14-0) are still undefeated. Other top records belong to Foster (21-2), Godbey (21-2), Strickland (20-1), Thao (18-1), Davis (18-1), Gould (14-6), Pelote (13-7), Jacobs (12-2), Boswell (12-7) and Alexander (10-9). … The Davie girls, getting a pin from Arwyn Brungardt at 132, took down Reagan 32-12. Four of Davie’s five victories were forfeits. Reagan pinned at 138 and 145. There were five double forfeits.