Powered by what could be the youngest lineup anywhere in the Triangle, Chapel Hill High School's wrestling team is of to a fast start.
The Tigers improved to 3-0 last week with a solid 45-30 victory on the road against almost equally young Cedar Ridge.
That came on the heels of wins against Panther Creek (57-22) and Franklinton (57-22) in a tri-match at home Monday.
"It was a nice win," Chapel Hill coach Tripp Price said Wednesday. "We have a lot of young guys, so it was good to see them get out there and compete."
Almost half of Chapel Hill's 40-man roster comprises freshmen 19 first-year high school wrestlers. Another 15 are sophomores. There are just four juniors and only two seniors Tommy Morrison and Robert-Karron Armstrong neither of whom wrestled in the varsity match Wednesday.
Chapel Hill opted to go with just upperclassmen in the starting lineup at Cedar Ridge junior Eliot Martin at 138 pounds and junior Erik Jens at 145. Having two of the more experienced Tigers in those spots proved prescient.
The match started with the 152-pound bout, and Cedar Ridge jumped out to a 6-0 lead thanks to a pin by sophomore Grady Pritchard. Chapel Hill's 160-pound sophomore Camden Bergey answered with a pin to tie the score at 6-6, and it was a see-saw match from there on. All but three matches were decided by pins, and in most cases even the losing wrestler had his chance at a near pin of his opponent.
Cedar Ridge was down just 33-30 with only the 138 and 145 bouts left to go. Martin and Jens both won with pins to seal the team victory.
"When you wrestle a team like Chapel Hill and it comes down to the last two matches, that's good," said Cedar Ridge coach Steve Redmon.
The Red Wolves are as young as Chapel Hill, Redmon pointed out, with a smaller roster composed of nine freshman, five sophomore, six juniors and just three seniors.
Cedar Ridge (0-1) got wins from Juan Jaime (113), Chris Durham (120), Jacob Tutor (132), Max Cusatis (170), and Trey Harris (195).
Chapel Hill's wins came from sophomore Zachary Allen (106), sophomore I'Money Rushing (126), Martin (138), Jens (145), Bergey (160), sophomore Roberto Sibrian (182), sophomore George McBurney (220) and sophomore Hudson Price (285).
Four of the Tigers improved to 3-0 with Wednesday’s wins: Martin, McBurney, Rushing and Price.
The sophomore Price, son of the head coach, is coming off a good year with last year’s 14-14 varsity. He’s set a personal goal of 30 wins and a spot in the state championship tournament, and that’s do-able, CHHS coach Jared Campbell said..
“Hudson is very young, but he’s physically mature, and he’s a physical wrestler who gets after it,” said Campbell, a former state champion for Chapel Hill. He joined the Chapel Hill staff as a co-coach last season, after coaching at East Chapel Hill.
Chapel Hill added another former head coach this season with the addition of Chase Kernodle, who led the Durham School of the Arts wrestling program for five years.