Chapel Hill High School’s young wrestling team is gaining more confidence, quickly, as it racks up wins.
Chapel Hill improved to 9-0 last week with a pair of victories in a tri-match at Tiger Gym: 45-30 over Leesville Road and 43-26 over Northwood.
“All of these matches are of equal value,” said Chapel Hill coach Tripp Price. “We are just looking for quality wins, and we are looking for improvement on our team. The victories take care of themselves if we take care of the individual effort and the individual matches.”
Several of the Tigers wrestling Wednesday night came away with a pair of victories. Joseph Guilavagui (120), Tommy Morrison (138) and George McBurney (220) each pinned both of their opponents.
Chapel Hill’s Erik Jens won a major decision, 17-3, at 152 pounds in the Northwood match and a hard-fought, come-from-behind decision, 4-2, against Carson Dean of Leesville Road.
Camden Bergey (170) won one match with a pin and another by decision.
“I think there were several guys who exceeded expectations tonight, and I think the coaches were proud of us, and we are proud for each other,” Bergey said.
Price was pleased with several wrestlers for reasons beyond wins – like wrestling up a weight class, turning a decision into a pin, or, conversely, converting a decision into extra points. He cited Eliot Martin’s bout at 145 pounds; Northwood’s Bryant Grayson was seconds away from scoring a major decision before Martin escaped for one point, resulting in a regular decision, 9-2.
Hudson Price, son of the head coach, won a 6-4 decision in the night’s first match, turning a 4-4 tie with Northwood’s Jack Dalton into a win by scoring a takedown with 5 seconds left. He later accepted a forfeit in the night’s last match after Chapel Hill had built an insurmountable lead against Leesville Road.
“Across the whole line up, everyone did a great job,” Hudson’s father said. “That’s what we are looking for. We’re looking for improvement. We are looking to not give up the big points in any matches, and for getting the bonus points when we can.”
Some of Chapel Hill’s youngest wrestlers only got to wrestle one bout, but made the most of their opportunities.
Zachary Allen gave Chapel Hill an early lead against Northwood that it would never lose with his pin of Arlo Estill. A 105-pound sophomore, Allen trailed most of his match at 113 and was down 7-12 after fending off a near pin by Estill in the final 30 seconds, but then pulled a nifty reverse out of a headlock and pinned his Charger opponent with 5 seconds remaining in the match.
“Tonight we wrestled two good teams, and we got the win in both of them,” Allen said. “That boosts our confidence a lot.
“It just shows local teams close to us that we’re getting better year after year. And we are going to compete for the conference championship.”
McBurney was in the same situation as Allen in his first match at 220. He trailed Northwood’s Joseph Peña 4-0 halfway through the first period, but 30 seconds after fending off a near fall, McBurney flipped his opponent and pinned him at the 1:48 mark.
Nicholas Heath wrestled one match at 106 against Leesville Road and won 11-7.
Max Understein notched a win at 126 against Northwood, while Roberto Sibrian (182) and Joseph Cannon (195) likewise won one of their two matches.
“The conference matches matter to us as a team, because how we do in the conference will play a role in where we get placed in the state duals,” Bergey said.
“I think that winning matches like this just gives us more confidence, especially in the practice room; it helps us drill harder and work harder.”