Pack wrestlers complete best season in more than a decade

Published 6:26 pm Monday, February 19, 2024

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Pride replaced disappointment for senior Bryant Smith and the rest of the Washington High School wrestling team a couple days after a whirlwind weekend at the 2A individual state tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum.
The Pack qualified a program record 11 wrestlers for the event and four made it to the medal stand in the top six after three days until the bright lights and before a bigger crowd than normal. Matches were contested all day Friday and again into Saturday evening on 10 mats laid out in the very spot where many classic ACC basketball contests were decided.

WHS finished sixth in 2A as a team behind dual team East champion Seaforth, state champion Trinity, Mt. Pleasant, R-S. Central and Newton-Conover.
“It was a phenomenal weekend for us,” coach Chris Penhollow said. “It’s our best finish in program history and to have four guys earn medals is outstanding. It’s always a great experience for the guys and most of them should be back next year.

Smith became Penhollow’s first wrestler to make it to the final match, but fell short against Cole Prichard of Morehead HS in the 157 lb. class. Smith’s was the last match of a long day that started with a 7:30 a.m. weigh-in.

“I went back to the hotel and took a nap, then had something to eat,” Smith said. “I knew it was going to be a long time before I wrestled, so I just stayed at the hotel. I had beaten the guy at the N.C. St. camp last summer and was confident going in, but I tried a move that didn’t work out and got stuck early.”

Smith was trying to become the Pack’s first title winner since Marquin Hill claimed the 285 lb. title in 2011 after winning it in 2010 as well. Justin Moore was the 171 lb. champ also in 2010 and Russ Chesson won three straight titles in lower weight classes in from 1995-97.

Earlier Saturday, sophomore Gabe Foreman claimed third place in the 144 lb. division with a pin over his West Wilkes opponent after pinning his Heide-Trask opponent to advance.

“The Heide-Trask guy got me in triple overtime at the regional the week before, so I knew I could beat him,” Foreman said. “I wrestled my match and am really happy to get third.”

Smith was making his fourth appearance and it was the second for Foreman.

“I was really surprised when I made it last year and ended up being one match away from placing,” Foreman said. “I was a lot more comfortable with the atmosphere and routine this year and things slowed down for me.”

Freshmen Sam Boltes (106) and Bryce Perry (113) finished fifth. Bottes pinned his Forbush HS opponent, while Perry collected a 4-0 decision over a Mt. Pleasant wrestler.

Sophomore David B. Meza lost a 6-4 decision in the consolation third round Saturday morning.

Northside’s Jacob Robert (113) and Rylan Paul (138) qualified for the 1A tournament, but didn’t place.

“It almost felt like it wasn’t real,” Smith said of making it to the finals. “It’s what we talked about every day in practice and it was amazing to have everyone focused on me at the end. I’m proud of making it that far and hopefully, I’ve left something for these guys to shoot for in the future.”