Mismatch: Wrestlers drop 10 pins on West Forsyth

Published 12:26 pm Tuesday, January 16, 2024

By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

The Davie and West Forsyth wrestling teams usually go at each other like Hagler and Hearns (Davie has a slim 12-11 series lead over the last 18 years). For about two decades, the Davie-West winner generally takes the Central Piedmont Conference crown, the loser settling for second.

But the Jan. 11 showdown at Davie was an anomaly in the rivalry. It was a mismatch. Davie was supremely better and sliced West to pieces, 70-3.

But while the schools are blood rivals, Davie coach Josh Stanley did not revel in the 67-point margin. After all, West’s new coach is his good buddy Timmy Allen, who is a Davie wrestling hero from 2002-06, and his staff is full of former War Eagles. In fact, Allen coached many of the current War Eagles when he was working at North Davie Middle.

“Timmy is working with a young team and we’re kind of in two different places,” Stanley said. “There were some matches that were probably better than the overall score.”

And then: “(Allen) has a mob of ex-Davie wrestlers helping him at West. It’s a rivalry match. We wanted to impose our will on them, but show respect to coach Timmy. They all love him anyway. They hugged him up and everything. It was a cool moment. It showed the impact Timmy has had on those guys. You knew what cards he was dealt ahead of time, but he handled it like a man. He’s got some good stuff coming.”

Ten of the 14 weight classes resulted in Davie pins. Brysen Godbey (215), Leighton Reavis (113), Luke Tehandon (120), Cayden Glass (126), Andy Davis (138), Brett Foster (144), Jerred Alexander (157), Maddox Creason (165), Hunter Testa (175) and Christian Boswell (190) provided those 60 points.

Elliott Gould had a major decision at 150. Ryder Strickland (285) and Stephen Jacobs (106) had decisions.

It was a fun Senior Night for eight Davie 12th graders: Tehandon, Reid Nail, Alexander, Testa, Godbey, Jaden Conner, Landon Nichols and Barry Fortune.

“They have a tough kid (at 106),” Stanley said of freshman Jacobs’ 7-3 decision. “Sometimes it can be intimidating for a young guy to jump in there. It was early and it was a big match for him.

“Going out and taking care of business on his Senior Night was fun (for Tehandon).”

The War Eagles utterly destroyed West even though two stalwarts stayed on the sidelines. Aidan Szewczyk, who is 19-2 at 113/120, and Tiaj Thao, who is 24-3 at 126/132, were replaced in the lineup by Reavis and Nail, respectively.

“Reid and Braxton (Hunter) have been back and forth all year (at 132),” Stanley said. “It was supposed to be Braxton’s spot this week, but Braxton decided these guys have been around for a long time. They’ve put a lot into the program, so they decided to let those guys jump in. (132) is one of their better guys. Reid lost (a decision), but he was in a good dogfight.”

While Allen inherited a rebuilding job at West (11-7 overall, 3-2 CPC), the War Eagles are on a 16-1 thrill-ride that includes a 5-0 mark in the CPC and a seven-match winning streak. They are closing in on their first league title since spring 2021 after finishing second to West the past two seasons. (Both times West went 7-0 in the CPC to Davie’s 6-1.)

Davie is a legitimate state-title contender because it has more depth than anybody could have imagined. Stanley has sent 28 guys to the varsity mat this season when there are only 14 starting spots. It’s really absurd how many good backups he has.

“We have another team behind this team that we don’t get to see a lot,” Stanley said. “There’s two guys (behind Szewczyk) at 113. (Freshman) Kelly Gannon could win the matches that (freshman) Leighton has won. They are both right there neck and neck pushing each other in the room, but they’re both behind Aidan. We are like that at 120 at 126. Barry Fortune is a senior who would start on most teams. Tehandon could be a state qualifier or maybe even a state placer, and he’s not in there (regularly). Jamarius Pelote is battling and trying to get a spot in the lineup, but he’s got Jerred above him, and if he goes down, he’s got Elliott. Reid and Braxton have had five wrestle-offs for 132, not to mention the other guys they have wrestle-offs against. It’s a gauntlet.”

Seven coaches in the match wrestled under Davie legend Buddy Lowery, who racked up 913 victories in 43 years from 1976-2019.Stanley and Davie assistant Isaiah Whitley wrestled for Lowery. On the West side, Allen (state champion at 171 in 2005 when he went 55-1), Jeremiah Raby (third in the state at 145 in 2004), Alex Gobble (state runner-up at 182 in 2014, fifth in career wins with 159), Matthew King (fifth in the state at 182 in 2018) and Bryson Hunter (41-12 as a state qualifier at 195 in 2018) all wrestled at Davie. Allen had the clinching win in Lowery’s third state championship in 2006.

You can imagine how proud Lowery was as he watched the match.

“Braxton’s dad (Michael) is working the table, his brother (Bryson) is coaching in the other corner and Braxton is over there with us,” Stanley said. “It’s wild.”

“They’re trying to keep wrestling done the right way,” Lowery said of the coaches from both sides. “I felt sorry for Timmy. It just takes time. He lost Glass (who transferred to Davie) and it doesn’t take but a couple. I’m just glad they’re giving back to the sport.”

Notes: West had won the past two meetings – 45-31 last year and 39-33 the year before. … Fortune returned from injury after missing several weeks. “Barry’s been out for almost a month,” Stanley said. “He just came back last week.” … The dynamic West girls hammered Davie 57-12. “They have some really, really gritty girls and they put it on us,” Stanley said. … The two winners for Davie were senior McKayla Conner, who pinned, and Lillyanne Simmons, who received a forfeit. “(Conner’s) just scrappy,” Stanley said. “She has grown up with a bunch of brothers and you can tell they’ve kind of put her through the wringer. She hasn’t been around wrestling a lot, but when it gets chippy and it’s more of a scrap and less technical, I’m putting my money on her.”