Team wrestling season is over, but not without a fight

Published 8:50 am Saturday, February 3, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Nobody told me the East regional wrestling champions would be crowned in the dark.
About 30 minutes after Washington High School routed homestanding Bunn in the third round of the 2A state tournament and Seaforth HS of Pittsboro did the same to SW Onslow, the gym went dark.
Okay, I thought, maybe they are going to do some kind of cool intro for both team with spotlights and smoke, while the old Chicago Bulls intro music played. Maybe Michael Buffer will show up to do his “Let’s get ready to ruuuuummmmble” thing.
When none of the above happened and the first match was about to start, a single spotlight hanging from the middle of the gym roof snapped on, casting a yellowish glow around the combatants.
That’s cool, I thought, then I remembered that darkness wasn’t great for photos when you can’t use a flash. I adapted quickly and the fight was on.
Seaforth, from Pittsboro, is in just its third year of existence and started the program without enough kids to fill all 14 weight classes. Now, they are top-seeded and undefeated looking to go to Greensboro for the dual team state championship.
The Hawks started with consecutive pins and I thought the Pack’s season might end quickly.
I’m glad David B. Meza, Gabe Foreman, Evan Makepeace, Bryant Smith and TraQuon Haywood were too focused on the task at hand to read my mind, because they answered with two pins, a major decision and two regular three point decisions to give WHS a 21-15 lead.
Wow, I thought. I might be in Greensboro Saturday after all.
The Hawks, perhaps reading my mind, responded by winning three of the next four matches to regain the lead, 33-25, with two to go.
Freshman Bryce Perry kept the Pack in it with his 53rd (!) victory this season, which meant senior Christian Price needed to pin his opponent for Washington to advance to its first dual team state championship match.
It was a lot to ask of anybody, but the task was particularly tall since the Hawks senior Josh Miller had not been pinned all year, and was 35-0.
Miller prevailed, 9-1, and the Hawks crowd erupted in celebration.
However, there was plenty to be proud of on the WHS side of the mat. Price competed hard, as did the entire team. Sometimes the opponent is just a little bit better and that was the case Wednesday night.
I gained a greater appreciation for high school wrestling by hanging out with the Pam Pack for the last three months or so. Everyone involved worked extremely hard to achieve their goals. Coach Chris Penhollow and his staff did an excellent job preparing the grapplers to maximize their talent and success. The kids were polite, respectful and showed good sportsmanship while dominating most opponents in losing only one match (D.H. Conley) before Wednesday. The Pack has dominated whatever conference they’ve been part of since Penhollow arrived with 11 straight undefeated league titles. This was the fourth time in 11 years under Penhollow that the Pack wrestled for the East title and the future is bright.
Their hard work and dedication will pay off at some point with a trip to the Greensboro Coliseum for all the marbles.
Great kids, great coaches and great effort equals great success. It’s a group the entire community can be proud of.