KENLY — Numbers told the story in a Johnston County triangular wrestling meet at North Johnston Thursday night.
Both Princeton, of the Carolina 1A Conference, and the host Panthers, of the Eastern Plains 2A Conference, opened their season with young rosters light on participants. That was not the case for Corinth Holders of the Two Rivers 3A Conference, who used a somewhat veteran roster to post a sweep of their county rivals.
The Pirates took advantage of nine forfeits by the Bulldogs in rolling to a 63-18 victory in the evening’s opening meet, then closed out the night by drubbing North Johnston, 61-8.
North Johnston, fielding nine wrestlers to open the year, won six consecutive bouts, including six by forfeit to rally past Princeton, 41-18.
“It was a typical opening night,” said Pirates coach Eric Wischhusen. “This was the first match for a lot of the guys that I put out on the mat ever wrestled.
“A lot of these guys (for all three teams) have never seen a wrestling match before. They didn’t know the structure of weigh-ins, where they sat in weight classes, didn’t know how to shake hands before the match, shaking the opposing coaches’ hands after the match. All the little things that go on.”
But what all the wrestlers got, which all three coaches agreed on, was experience on the mat.
Bulldog coach Terry Braswell, who anticipates additional wrestlers to come out whenever the Princeton football team’s playoff run ends, was proud of his team’s effort despite the dual losses.
“We did pretty good,” Braswell said. “It’s hard to practice with a small group like this, but overall they did well. All of the guys got after it on the mat.”
Freshman 106-pounder Haylee Melville, 126-pounder Michael Daughtry and 132-pounder Cameron Cooke all enjoyed respective 2-0 worksheets on the evening for the Bulldogs.
Melville received a pair of forfeit victories, while Daughtry recorded a pair of first-period pins, stopping the Pirates’ Aaron Baker in 1:05 and the Panthers’ Ian Walston in 35 seconds.
Cooke pinned Princeton’s Gregory Alford in 3:41 and North Johnston’s Esli Galvez in 2:43.
Eric Joyner and Daniel Reyes posted 2-0 records for the Panthers, with Joyner, wrestling at 152, earning a 23-4 technical fall victory against Princeton’s Ryan Braswell and a 13-4 major decision win against Corinth Holders’ Cameron Smiley while Reyes won at 160 pounds by forfeit against the Bulldogs and taking a 10-0 major decision win over the Pirates’ Luke Turner.
Also winning by forfeit for the Panthers against the Bulldogs were Norman Richardson (120) Christian Byrd (170) and Cody Jones (182).
“I saw a lot of heart,” said Panthers coach Jonathan Hartley. “Especially from our young guys. I have a lot of young guys and they have a lot to learn, but they’re working hard. I think we’ll be pretty good – we’ll keep on getting better.”
The Pirates won the final nine bouts – six by forfeit and two by pin – in rallying past the Bulldogs in the opener.
Winning by forfeits were Darius Dunn (113), Jordan Harding (120), Josie Mendez (145), Turner, Austin Ellis (170), Jason Gonzalez (182), Dillon Brannan (195) and Chris Solano (286).
Saul Vargas won by pin over Skyler Shields in 23 seconds at 220 pounds, while Cameron Brewer stopped Joseph Gomez in 1:22 at 138.
The only match to go to decision was a 9-7 victory by Smiley against Braswell.
The Pirates roared to a 27-0 cushion over the Panthers on a 49-second pin by Hadding, a 14-13 triumph by Duncan Dradish at 126 over Walston, pins from Alford (132) and Brewer (145). Mendez took a forfeit win at 138 as he and Brewer flip-flopped weights from heir first meet.
Following the Panthers’ back-to-back major decisions Ellis got the Pirates rolling again with a 23 second pin at 170, followed by a major decision by Gonzalez, forfeit wins by Brannan and Vargas, a pin by Solano and a forfeit win by Dunn.
“It was nice for the guys to get in and get their feet wet,” Wischhusen said. “I think the guys learned lot, because the first match of the season is always the toughest. From here on out, it’s learn and get better.”