Pack wrestlers pick up two conference wins

Published 4:12 pm Thursday, December 7, 2023

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Fresh from a strong showing at the 25-team Swiss Bear Invitational in New Bern last Saturday and in preparation for the Beast of the East tournament at Croatan HS this weekend, the Washington High School wrestling team opened Eastern Plains Conference action with a pair of home victories Wednesday night.

The Pack rolled over West Craven 61-15 and subdued Ayden-Grifton, 47-29 to get a leg up in league competition after opening the evening with a 78-3 rout of Manteo. Washington is in search of its 10th straight conference championship.

“It’s always good to get the first two at home because it keeps the pressure on the rest of the league to keep up with us,” coach Chris Penhollow said. “Ayden-Grifton came in undefeated, so I knew it would be a tough match. Our guys responded well and it puts us in the drivers seat the rest of the way.”

Evan Makepeace (157 lb.) started with a decision, then TraQuan Haywood (165) followed with a pin. Sam Boltes (106), Bryce Perry (113), Christian Price (120), J.B. Norman (126), Tate Tucker (144) and Gabe Forman (150) also earned victories.

165 lb. state qualifier Bryant Smith missed the match with an injury and is expected back next week.

Perry, a freshman, stayed undefeated at 20-0 and is ranked eighth in the state in his weight class.

“The kid he pinned from Ayden-Grifton was ranked 10th and Bryce was 14th, so that helped him move up,” Penhollow said. “He looks like this innocent little blonde kid, but he competes at a high level on the mat. He’s strong and knows how to wrestle, and he’s great for us so far.”

Smith (18-2) is ranked fourth in the 165 lb. class, while Boltes (13-3) is sixth at 106. Forman (14-7) is 12th at 150 lbs., Tucker is 14th at 144, Haywood (14-6) is 15th at 175 and Price (120) and David B. Meza (138) are 18th.

The Beast of the East tournament at Croatan is the next test.

“We compete in it most years and it helps us continue to face strong competition,” Penhollow said. “We’re in a good spot right now and I’m looking forward to seeing what we do this weekend.”