Pack places three at state meet

Published 5:25 am Sunday, February 22, 2009

By By STEVE FRANKLIN, Sports Writer
WINSTON-SALEM - Washington junior Justin “Weasel” Moore will have to wait another year to fulfill his state championship dreams.
The Pam Pack star dominated his half of the bracket at Saturday’s Class 3A State Wrestling Championships, but had to settle for silver after running into powerful senior Chris Hill of Moorehead in the 171-pound championship finals.
Moore became just the sixth Pam Pack grappler in program history to reach the state finals when he pinned Tuscola’s David Atwood in 2:34 in the semifinals.
In the championship bout, Hill out-muscled Moore for most of the match to score a 9-1 major decision.
Moore wasn’t the only bright spot for the Pam Pack. Washington senior Johnnie Smallwood and sophomore Marquin Hill each placed at the state tournament to help Washington tie for ninth in the team standings in the 76-team classification.
While Riggs was excited about his team’s overall performance, there was one scary moment for the Pack. Hill, wrestling in his fifth place match against Southwestern Randolph’s Branson O’Hara, was taken off the mat on a stretcher late in the third period after suffering a back injury. The Pack heavyweight was transported to a local hospital and as of the Daily News’ deadline time remained there after being evaluated for what is being termed “a deep contusion near his spine.”
Hill, who rolled to wins over South Central’s Nick Summrell (fall in 1:38) and Glenn’s Chris Gidden (4-1 decision) on Saturday afternoon, was expected to be released from the hospital over night.
Smallwood (40-8) rebounded from a one-point opening round loss to Anson County’s Jamie Bennett on Friday morning to take fourth.
After beating Southern Lee’s Antonio Singletary on Friday afternoon, Smallwood returned to the coliseum with a mission: To place at states.
Smallwood, who was beaten by South Central’s Matt Stoeckle in last weekend’s regional final, exacted revenge on the Falcons’ junior with a 3-1 win in the second round of the consolation bracket. He then upended Trinity’s Jesse Doyle by an 8-2 score in round three to advance to the consolation semifinals.
In the consolation semifinals, Smallwood trailed 3-2 for most the third period, but scored a takedown with six second left to top Southwestern Randolph’s Kevin Brackett 4-3 and advance to the third place bout. In the third place bout, Smallwood ran out of gas and got pinned by Steven Rink of St. Stephens in the first period.
Nevertheless, Smallwood took home a medal and became just the fifth Pam Pack grappler in school history to win at least 40 matches in a season. Teammates Gabe Gardner, Darien Peele and Moore all achieved the feat this season, while two-time state runner-up Gerald Lawrence was the first to reach the plateau in 2006.
Gardner, who edged out Moore for the Pack’s single-season wins record with 47, came just short of placing.
The Washington senior reached the final eight on Saturday by pinning R.S. Central ‘s Jack Stephens in 4:55, but came up short in his bid to place as he lost an 8-3 decision to Al Brown senior Morgan McDaniel in the third round of consolations.
Peele, another Pam Pack senior, saw his state tournament run come to an end in the second round of the consolation bracket as he fell to Southwestern Randolph’s Eddy Roman. Peele, who went 1-2 in his first state tourney appearance, finished the season with a 41-14 record.