Davie wrestlers win 57-team tournament

Published 2:03 pm Tuesday, January 9, 2024

By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

Davie’s wrestling team might have only produced one champion in the Gate City Grapple tournament in Greensboro – this rugged event wasn’t for the faint of heart – but the War Eagles still celebrated a day of absolute victory.

Their first-place showing in a field of 57 teams was a testament to their fabulous depth. Coach Josh Stanley carried 16 varsity boys to the Greensboro Coliseum Complex’s Special Events Center and 15 of them contributed at least one win. The 16 guys combined for a 38-28 record as Davie scored 170 points to outdistance the 163.5 by Nolensville (Tn.) and the 134 by Laney. The tournament was held Dec. 29-30.

On hand were six schools from Virginia, two from Tennessee, two from South Carolina, one from West Virginia and 46 from North Carolina.

“It’s usually even crazier competition there with a lot of Georgia teams,” Stanley said. “It’s one of those that is the closest to simulating the state tournament.”

Hunter Testa was Davie’s champ with a 5-0 run at 175. He pinned his opponent in the finals, pushed his season record to 24-0 and ran his four-year record to 134-7.

“Honestly, the bigger win was in the semifinals because it’s a monkey that’s been on his back,” Stanley said. “When he’s talking to college coaches, they’re like: ‘Why have you not won the big one?’ He’s lost in the semifinals in big events all the way up to national events, so he got that monkey off his back.”

Testa’s semifinal opponent was a pain for six-plus minutes, but the star senior emerged with a thrilling 5-3 overtime victory. That’s the kind of win that is good for Testa’s psyche as he moves forward.

“If you are built similar to Hunter and you don’t have a gas tank, it’s hard to stand a chance against Testa,” Stanley said. “The guy in the semis was real long. When Hunter got him tired, the guy started diving under and putting Hunter in funky situations that Hunter’s not as comfortable with. It was cool watching him gut it out. Hunter is technical and by the book, so when you take him off the script sometimes he will pause in situations. It was an awkward match for Hunter, so him winning that was big.”

Cayden Glass (3-1 at 120) steamrolled his way to the finals, where he suffered his first loss of the season. Yeah, Glass’ junior-season winning streak ended at 22, but he pushed a defending state champion to the brink with a hair-raising rally.

“He lost to a state champ (from 3-A Cape Fear),” Stanley said. “Cayden’s wrestling better than I’ve ever seen him. No excuses, we lost to a tough guy in the finals. That guy is really long and likes to do funky stuff, and that is not Cayden’s thing;  that is more like Aidan’s game (Aidan Szewczyk). So Cayden was a little more hesitant than he should’ve been and he did not pull the trigger.”

Glass stormed back in a blink before narrowly losing 10-7.

“Cayden was down by five and hit a big gator roll and put the kid on his back,” Stanley said. “He was all but pinned and tied the match up. It was a crazy, last-second match.”

Sophomore Tiaj Thao (5-1 at 126) delivered a formidable performance on the way to third place. Five War Eagles placed in the top five, including senior Brysen Godbey (3-2 for fourth at 215) and freshman Aidan Szewczyk (3-2 for fifth at 113).

Davie got 3-2 efforts from sophomore Andy Davis (138), sophomore Maddox Creason (165) and junior Ryder Strickland (285). Going 2-2 were sophomore Braxton Hunter (132), junior Brett Foster (144) and senior Jerred Alexander (157). Davie got one win from freshman Stephen Jacobs (106), senior Luke Tehandon (126), sophomore Jamarius Pelote (150) and junior Christian Boswell (190).

“There were a lot of small victories,” Stanley said. “Ryder had to battle through an injury.”

Other top records on the team: Godbey 25-4, Strickland 24-3, Foster 24-4, Thao 23-3, Davis 22-3 and Szewczyk 18-2.

Junior Varsity

Davie made plenty of noise in the JV tournament at the Grapple. Freshman Leighton Reavis took first at 113. Freshman Walker Matthews and junior Joe Wilds were second at heavyweight and 190, respectively.

“We had some cool experiences for the younger guys,” Stanley said. “Leighton is a freshman we’re excited to see him coming up. Walker is a heavyweight that is way undersized. He’s 220 pounds; he should probably be wrestling 215. Joe did really well. He’s just now getting on the mat. He had a knee injury. He’s only been in for three weeks or a month. The first week he was healthy, he took our 190-pounder (Boswell) to overtime in a wrestle-off. So Joe is a freak. And he’s an infectious, everybody loves him. Everybody is real high on him.”

Javon Carter did not finish among the top two at 157, but he’s a freshman to keep an eye out for.

“Javon did really well,” Stanley said. “He’s one of those younger guys we want to keep feeding matches to. When he starts turning the right direction, he’s going to be scary. He’s just a baby at wrestling. When he starts figuring it out, he’s going to be scary.”

Davie 72, Tabor 10

Davie breezed past Tabor on the road on Jan. 4 and moved to 15-1 overall and 4-0 in the Central Piedmont Conference.

Szewczyk, Creason, Testa and Godbey had pins. Tehandon won by injury default. The Spartans forfeited to Jacobs, Thao, Hunter, Davis, Foster, Elliott Gould and Alexander.

The Davie girls received six forfeits and defeated Tabor 36-12.