KNIGHTDALE — Limited lineup options for East Wake gave Knightdale an upper hand in their conference wrestling match Thursday.
The Knights’ 57-24 victory was virtually set in stone after the Warriors gave up forfeits in the 220-pound and heavyweight classes just past the midway point in the match.
“We haven’t had a 220(-pound wrestler) all year,” East Wake coach Brian Staples said. “We moved some guys around, but I didn’t want to move our 195 up because (Knightdale) has a true 220. It just wasn’t going to be good for the kids to do it.”
The Knights led 41-12 after the forfeit wins by Malik Fleetwood (220 pounds) and Tyler Palochak (285). From there, East Wake (2-4, 2-2 Greater Neuse River 4A) would have had to pin in the five remaining matches to win the overall match by a single point.
Tramal Turner officially nixed that possibility in the very next match, at 106 pounds. His pin of East Wake’s Khadeem Dublin in 3:52 gave Knightdale (3-1) an insurmountable lead.
Knightdale had five pins and one forfeit in the match while East Wake had three of each, its third handout coming at 145 pounds.
“We’ll take the points anyway we can get them, but we like to get on the mat and get some experience against people other than our own guys,” Knightdale coach Kenny Watkins said. “At 145 pounds, for Andrew Skinner, it was his first match making 145 and he won by forfeit.”
While the overall match had been decided, there was still plenty on the line from an individual standpoint when Knightdale’s Nick Lopez and East Wake’s Morgan Wilder squared off in the next-to-last match at 126.
“That was a huge match for conference tournament placing, seeding-wise, because their weight class is pretty stacked,” Watkins said.
Wilder had defeated Lopez twice, each by a 1-point decision, in two prior meetings in tournaments this season. Lopez, a defense-prone wrestler, left his comfort zone for some offensive moves and came away with a 17-9 major decision triumph.
“Every time we wrestle, he’s the always taking the shots,” Lopez said of Wilder. “This time, I took the shots. I’ve been practicing and conditioning especially for this match. That was unexpected. I did not see myself winning by that much.
“This meant a lot. It was a very good win.”
Skinner’s uncontested win at 145 gave the Knights a 12-0 lead after his teammate Bobby Samuels pinned East Wake’s Tyler Barabasz in 1:42 in the opening match at 138.
East Wake got back-to-back pins by Phillip Stone (152 pounds) and Dylan Williams (160) to even the count. Stone built an 11-1 in the third period before securing a pin on Josh Mitchell at the 5:02 mark, while Williams needed only one period to earn the fall against Quint Harris.
The two other Skinner brothers, Brandon (170 pounds) and Bradley (182), restored Knightdale’s lead to double digits by pinning Josh Hale (:33) and Markus Mayner (2:48), respectively. Knightdale’s Alif Bey followed with a 16-1 technical fall over Alston Willard at 195 to stretch the margin to 29-12.
Half the Warriors’ points came after Turner had already sealed the win for Knightdale. Chris Welker won by the Knights’ lone forfeit at 113 pounds, and Cody Staples put a 24-second pin on Knightdale’s Charles Futrell at 120.
Following Lopez’s rematch with Wilder, 132-pounder Charles Pumbu ended the match with a 17-second pinning of East Wake’s Ryan Ackley.
Unlike the season-long void at the 220-pound slot, Warriors heavyweight Zach Willard missed the Knightdale match after being injured in practice. Staples said it was likely Willard would miss three events over a five-day span, but not the rest of the season.
“It’s unfortunate timing, but he’ll be back,” Staples said. “There was really no way around forfeiting three weight classes to (Knightdale).”
Moody: 919-829-4806; Twitter: @easternwakenews