Piedmont wrestlers win fifth straight league tourney
Piedmont High’s wrestling team continued its dominance in conference tournament competition by winning a fifth straight tournament championship Saturday.
The Panthers carried a big lead into the Rocky River Conference finals with a 169-122.5 lead over Central Academy.
Piedmont thwarted any ideas of a big comeback with six straight championship match victories between 152 and 220 pounds.
Those victories, along with freshman Austin Bagley’s gold medal at 113 pounds, helped the Panthers finish with a 216-162.5 team victory over the Cougars.
The Panthers finished a four-year run in the Rocky River Conference without ever losing a dual match or league tournament, the Panthers’ first tournament championship in the run came in their final year in the South Piedmont Conference.
“This says a lot about the kids’ hard work. We prepare them but they’re the ones that have to go out there and do the wrestling,” Panthers coach Todd Stokes said. “We set up a pretty good middle school program because we have a lot of younger kids in the lineup. Even our sophomores are pretty much first-year varsity wrestlers. It’s a level of expectation the kids have for themselves. Hopefully it keeps breeding upon itself.”
The Panthers know they have to score big in the upper weight classes with so much youth in the lower weights.
“From 106 to 145 I think it’s all but one, maybe two today that are first-year starters,” Stokes said. “Our upper weights from Lucas (Smith) up to 220 are our returning kids. They’re the ones that know every time they go out they have to win. In tournaments we’re a little bit lenient with them but in dual-team matches they know they have to score bonus points for us. If we do not get bonus points from those kids, we will not win matches in the playoffs.”
The Cougars scored two championship victories on each side of the Panthers’ big run with 145 senior Alex Ortiz’s 10-2 victory over Piedmont’s Rhett Byrum and junior heavyweight Jackson Price’s 6-2 come-from-behind victory over Piedmont’s Will Groves.
Central Academy junior 106 Sergio Paz also brought home a gold for the Cougars with a 43 second pin in the first match of the finals.
West Stanly finished third in the team standings with 139 points, but were unable to score a gold in three opportunities.
Cuthbertson finished fourth with 113 points.
The Cavaliers dominated the lower-middle weight classes with three straight victories from 126 senior Cody Walker, 132 senior Joshua Hattaway and senior 138 Cody Cook.
Junior Rayquan Neal brought home a gold medal for Monroe in the 120 division, and his team placed fifth.
Central Academy, Forest Hills and Piedmont will be in state playoff matchups starting Tuesday with the first two rounds.
1. Piedmont 216
2. Central Academy 162.5
3. West Stanly 139
4. Cuthbertson 113
5. Monroe 70
6. Forest Hills 57
7. North Stanly 17
8. Union Academy 8
Championship match Results
106: Sergio Paz (CATA) p. Mike Benedetto (CHS) 0:43
113: Austin Bagley (PM) md. Noah Walker (CHS) 11-3
120: Rayquan Neal (MHS) d. Brett Underwood (PM) 6-5
126: Cody Walker (CHS) p. Jonathan Surratt (WS) 0:39
132: Joshua Hattaway (CHS) d. Josh Lemon (CATA) 7-3
138: Cody Cook (CHS) d. Jonathan Ward (WS) 9-8
145: Alex Ortiz (CATA) md. Rhett Byrum (PM) 10-2
152: Lucas Smith (PM) d. Wesley Gordon (WS) 10-3
160: Dalton Graybill (PM) d. Lyle Morian (CATA) 12-8
170: Dylan Nelson (PM) p. Joe Walther (CHS) 1:13
182: Parker Von Egidy (PM) p. Malik Clyburn (FH) 2:58
195: Bryce Braswell (PM) p. Dakota Watkins (MHS) 0:57
220: Vassar Strickland (PM) p. Jose Lopez (FH) 4:38
285: Jackson Price (CATA) d. Will Groves (PM) 6-2