Washington finishes well against top-tier opponents

Published 5:58 pm Monday, December 12, 2016

Washington moved forward with its objective to take on the best competition in the east this weekend when the wrestling team traveled out to Croatan for its “Beast of the East” tournament.

The Pam Pack did well against the stacked field. It was ahead after the first day of the two-day event, and finished Saturday in fourth place. The boys were just 2.5 points back of third-place Wheatmore. Dixon and Croatan — two of the best squads on this side of North Carolina — placed first and second, respectively.

“Those three ahead of us are three of the ones, along with Carrboro, that you’re going to have to matchup with and beat to win the east,” coach Chris Penhollow said. “It was our first chance to get a look at them and see where they’re strong and where they may have some gaps.”

Four Pam Pack wrestlers advanced to the finals. Simeon Pope was the lone Washington representative to claim first place. The 126-pound competitor cruised past Wheatmore and Jacksonville wrestlers before pinning Chapel Hill’s Samuel Gunning in the finals.

“Simeon rolled through him,” Penhollow said. “The kid walked over to me after the match and said, ‘There’s no way that kid is 120 pounds.’”

In total, Washington had eight make the semifinals, and four in the finals. Carson Asby, Jacob Smith and Andrew Ferguson all earned second place in their weight classes. Ferguson’s loss to William Newbern of West Carteret was his only loss of the season thus far.

“I told them all, ‘Look at who you’re losing to,’” Penhollow said. “Most of them were not against 2-A kids. We’re worried about the 2-A kids and how we matchup against them.”

Smith, wrestling in the 132-pound division, flew through his opponents en route to the finals, where he lost to a multiple-time state qualifier in Tony Locke of Northside-Jacksonville.

“In the semifinals, the one seed was a kid who finished second in the state last year,” Penhollow said. “Well, he got upset by one point by a kid from Chapel Hill, and Jacob just beat the brakes off him in the semifinals.”

Asby’s finals loss came to First Flight’s Jeremiah Derby, who is the defending 120-pound state champion.

“That kid is nasty,” Penhollow said. “Carson only has two losses this year, and they’re both to that kid. He got caught and he pinned him. He was upset about that, but we can clean that up.”

That’s going to be a focus moving forward. Washington is in a great spot. It has seen plenty of impressive teams early on in the season, and opens its 2-A Eastern Plains Conference slate today at Beddingfield. After a trip out to Raleigh for the WRAL Tournament, the Pam Pack will shut down until it hosts its tournament on Dec. 30.

“We all agreed we need to clean up the basics — go back and drill some little things like clearing our arm from the bottom so they can’t trap it,” Penhollow said. “That and finishing people when we get them on their back. It’s fixable stuff, but we just have to drill it and get it done.”

Success has been plentiful thus far. Washington hopes it keeps coming now that it readies itself to defend its conference championship, starting at Beddingfield on today.