Washington wrestling’s season ends in second round of playoffs

Published 1:33 pm Wednesday, February 4, 2015

DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS PERFORMANCE OF THE DAY: Washington’s D.K. Credle was one of two Pam Pack wrestlers to pick up pins against Dixon, the defender state runner-up, on Tuesday.

PERFORMANCE OF THE DAY: Washington’s D.K. Credle was one of two Pam Pack wrestlers to pick up pins against Dixon, the defender state runner-up, on Tuesday.

The Washington wrestling team took what was supposed to be a rebuilding year and transformed it into one of the best seasons in Pam Pack history, shattering initial expectations by finishing with a 29-2 record, an Eastern Plains Conference championship and a dual team playoff victory.

On Tuesday, Washington hosted Trinity, Bartlett Yancey and Dixon, the defending 2-A state runner-up, in the first and second rounds of the dual team playoff.

In the first round, Dixon routed Trinity, 60-15, while the Pam Pack picked up a playoff win as well, defeating Bartlett Yancey, 42-24. But in the second round, Washington’s storybook season came to an end at the hands of an overly formidable opponent, as the Bulldogs advanced to the eastern regional championship with a 67-12 victory.

“In wrestling, there’s not a lot of home field advantage,” said head coach Chris Penhollow. “You look at the matchups and more or less know before you wrestle whether or not you have a shot. We told our kids they had a shot. You could see every person they put out there was solid and even with our solid kids, we know it was going to be tough.”

For the Pam Pack, Round 1 kicked off with a battle between two heavyweights — senior Neill Jennings and Bartlett Yancey’s Austin Shelton. Jennings shuffled around the mat for a few seconds and on his first strike, pinned Shelton for a quick six points.

After two forfeits in Washington’s favor, Simeon Pope battled with Ryan Chilton in the 120-pound matchup and after a competitive first period, Pope came away with a pin in the final seconds of the second period, which gave his team a 24-0 lead.

Bartlett Yancey struck back however, as Walker Bowling (126), Isaac Wright (145) and Jordan Johnson (152), via pin, chipped away at the lead. Out of those three losses, the battle between Wright and Cameron Davenport came down to the wire with Wright taking the match with a pair of points in the final seconds.

After Johnson’s win, Andrew Ferguson responded with a hard-earned pin over Jaelyn Totten in the second period. Bartlett Yancey won three of the last four matches (two decisions, one pin), but Washington’s strong start gave it the edge in the first round.

“We thought we could beat them if we wrestled the way we should,” Penhollow said. “Everyone came out and wrestled hard. I thought we matched up well with them.”

Penhollow knew the chances of his young team defeating one of the best wrestling lineups, top to bottom, in eastern North Carolina were slim. As expected, Dixon ran away with the meet, but two Pam Pack wrestlers made statements that could build some momentum heading into the regional round of the individual playoffs.

Washington down 28-0, D.K. Credle took to the mat to face off against Dixon’s Marcus Moody. Credle looked outmatched early on and was brought to the ground on multiple occasions. But in the second period, after mounting a comeback, Credle pinned his opponent on an acrobatic move with 22 seconds remaining.

In total, Dixon pinned 10 Pam Pack wrestlers, but Washington managed to end the evening on a positive note. In the final match of the day, Jennings maneuvered his way to a second period pin over Dixon’s Gavin Brinkley.

“I told them to keep their heads up and there’s a reason that team took second in the state last year,” Pennhollow said. “29-2, if anyone would have told me that at the start of the season, I would have said there’s no way that’s going to happen. I thank them for all the hard work and wrestling like a team for the whole year. Now we shut it down and work on the individuals going to regionals.”

Despite the loss, Washington will send 14 wrestlers to the 2-A regional championships on Feb. 13-14 at Croatan High School — Jacob Smith, Marcus Sneed, Simeon Pope, Ausitn Coward, Austin Koonce, D.K. Credle, Cameron Davenport, Jordan Grazier, Drew Ferguson, Kenny Castaneda, Chris Coogan, Ian Stroud, Bryant Romero and Neill Jennings.