Washington barely falls to Cary in tournament

Published 11:17 am Saturday, December 31, 2016

Earlier in the season, Cary got to compete in a tournament against the same Croatan and Dixon teams that Washington is preparing for come the postseason. Cary won the tournament, and Washington took the 4-A group to the wire during Friday’s Eli Saleeby Dual Team Tournament.

The Pam Pack lost the match by one point. Austin Koonce and Mitchell Cobb were wrestling up a weight class. The close loss can’t be chalked up to any individual, but there are plenty of silver linings in the way the first-place match went.

“We won more matches, but they got more pins than we did,” coach Chris Penhollow said. “That’s kind of what I thought was going to happen. I actually didn’t think we’d be this close. … I was really proud of how hard the guys fought.”

Koonce and Cobb were both giving up weight to their Cary counterparts. Neither got pinned until the final 30 seconds of the match.

“They were really upset, but we all told them to keep their heads up,” Penhollow said. “It doesn’t come down to just that. There are several things that can happen in a close match.”

Washington is experienced come the playoffs, but this tournament should still be an eye opener for the way things will go in the postseason. An outmatched wrestler fighting to not get pinned — or a stronger competitor picking up a pin — can make all the difference.

“It’s going to come down to that when we get to the playoffs at the end of the year,” said Penhollow, who now shifts focus to the second half of the season. “We talked before the match. I told them it’s going to come down to, the guys that are outmatched, can you be stubborn and smart and not get on your back to get pinned?”

Drew Ferguson, Khyrick McCloud, Marcus Sneed, Carson Asby, Simeon Pope, Jacob Smith, Austin Coward and DK Credle all picked up wins in the match with Cary.

Washington obliterated three of its four opponents en route to Cary. It swept South Central 88-0, beat Pasquotank County 71-3, and topped North Lenoir 62-18. Future conference foe West Craven gave the Pam Pack a competitive match, which the hosts won, 44-28.

“They were fairly strong,” Penhollow said. “We’re excited about that new conference. They probably gave us our second toughest match. They’ve got some solid kids in different places. … That new conference we’re going into, wrestling-wise, is much stronger top to bottom.”

Thus concludes the year for Washington wrestling. The winter has been successful so far, but the Pam Pack still has a lot left it wants to accomplish.

“I’m excited about moving forward in the second half of the season,” Penhollow said. “This is something we can talk to them about heading into the end of the season.”

The Pam Pack opens 2-A Eastern Plains Conference action Thursday at North Pitt.