Pack falls short in hard-fought East final

Published 9:18 am Thursday, February 1, 2024

The battle to advance to Greensboro for the 2A state tournament as the East regional champion was contested under a single spotlight hanging from the rafters in the Bunn High School gym.
When the lights came up almost two hours after the match began, the Seaforth Hawks of Pittsboro emerged from the darkness with a 37-28 hotly-contested victory over the Washington Pam Pack.
The top-seeded Wolves entered the final match undefeated after a 59-12 rout of #4 SW Onslow in the third round, while second-seeded Washington defeated the home team, 39-31, in a match made closer than it was because of four forfeits at the end after the Pack had wrapped up the win.
WHS was down early after two pins to start, but battled back to take the lead behind a 10-9 decision by David B. Meza (138 lb.), a pin from Gabe Foreman at 150, Evan Makepeace’s 11-7 win at 157, Bryant Smith’s 17-5 major decision at 160 put the Pack on top 16-15 and TraQuon Haywood’s pin at 175 made it 22-15.
The Hawks clawed back with two pins sandwiched between a Cameron Johnson 4-0 victory to regain the lead 27-25 and took two of the final three matches to seal the title.
“We gave it everything we had and came up just short against a quality opponent,” coach Chris Penhollow said. “We had a couple guys get pinned at the wrong time, but we battled hard to the end. It was a great match between two outstanding teams that didn’t go our way. I’m proud of my guys and wouldn’t have done anything differently with our lineup.”
Washington roared out of the gate in the opening match against Bunn, stunning the home crowd that expected the two-time defending East champions to do it again.
Bryce Perry (120) and Christian Price (126) opened with wins by decision, then Braxton Woolard (126) and Meza (138) collected consecutive pins. Trent Tucker (144) followed with a decision for a decisive 23-0 lead. Smith won a major decision at 157, Haywood followed with a pin at 165 and Marek Bates clinched the match with a decision at 190 for a 36-7 lead before they forfeited the last four matches to avoid injury.
“I was a little surprised by how strong we started, but it was great to see,” Penhollow said. “We took care of our business in that one and almost pulled it off in the final.”