PITTSBORO — The torrential rainstorms and violent winds that assaulted the Triangle on Saturday couldn’t do anything to dampen the intensity of the wrestling taking place at Northwood High School.
The Charger Cup went on as planned. Wrestlers from 15 high school teams rotated the action on three mats simultaneously, ignoring the storms outside except for a 30-minute pause when tornadoes were reported not too far away from the Northwood campus.
For Carrboro High, the all-day event was a chance to regroup from a showing earlier in the week that have left coach DeWitt Driscoll less than happy. He was still bothered by the Jaguars’ 41-32 loss in a dual meet at Mid-State 2A rival Burlington Cummings.
“We wrestled really bad on Wednesday,” Driscoll said bluntly.
The Jaguars’ showing at the Cup was more to his expectations, though. “With a couple of days to refocus, we looked solid.”
In the day’s headline matchup of local rivals, 2A Carrboro, unranked in the News & Observer’s local poll, took down No. 2 Chapel Hill 41-27. “They wrestled really well,” said Driscoll, whose Jags also beat Southern Alamance but lost to 4A Leesville Road and Holly Springs, the latter being ranked by the News & Observer as the area’s No. 1 team.
The Tigers did not have had as successful a day as they might have liked with regard to the win-loss column — losing to Northern Durham, Carrboro and Holly Springs before beating Southern Alamance 45-29. But Chapel Hill coach Tripp Price remained upbeat.
“We had a good day as far as learning what we have to improve upon,” Price said.
And his Tigers were aggressive in search of experience. For example, Camden Bergey could have accepted a forfeit from Southern Alamance at 160 pounds, but Chapel Hill allowed for a double forfeit at 160 as Bergey wrestled up to 170 and pinned Tabias Inge in 2:36.
Bergey ended up 2-2 for the day, as did Chapel Hill’s Zach Allen at 106 pounds and Roberto Sibrian at 182. George McBurney, working his way back from a mid-season injury, went 2-1. Three Tigers went 3-1: I’Money Rushing (two wins at 126 and one at 132); Tommy Morrison (two pins and forfeit at 138); and R. Hudson Price (three pins at 285 and an extra-period loss to Magnus Herweyer of Carrboro.
Thanks to wins by Stephen Dreher (126) and Trenton Davis (132), Carrboro led from the start against Chapel Hill. Carrboro, 13-4 in dual meets, also got wins from Keegan Cordell, (145), Nathaniel Oquaye (170), George Carpenter (120), Carson McKay (182), Hserti Ya (113), and Saevonne Tyson (195).
Chapel Hill, 13-3, got wins against Carrboro from Morrison (138), Henry Hogan (152), Bergey (160), McBurney (220) and Allen (106).
Price thought it “hard to tell” if any one team dominated the Charger Cup, let alone in the Triangle. But the event, in addition to showcasing local talent also served as a good snapshot of the state of local wrestling, a sport still stinging from the International Olympic Committee’s decision to drop it from the summer games.
Defending state champion Orange definitely has established itself as a successful program, said Northwood coach Jason Amy, and “in Chatham County it’s definitely a growing sport.”
Driscoll voiced a similar opinion, comparing the parity between area wrestling teams to a see-saw effect. The traditionally good teams, he said, “are kind of coming down, and the teams that have been worse are elevating. You have six or seven equal caliber teams.”
Added Amy: “the competition between all the kids is growing, and creating a better atmosphere. We’re creating champions.”
Nonetheless, both coaches felt that certain teams at the event had an edge, at least in terms of momentum.
Driscoll pointed to Northwood and Chapel Hill High, saying that the young Tigers “looked solid.”
Northwood’s Amy thought three teams — Eden Morehead, Holly Springs, and Wake Forest Rolesville — are particularly hot right now, as wrestlers begin to get into the meat of their in-conference schedules. “Those [teams] are your dominators.”
Amy’s own Chargers went 2-2 on the day, in matches that the coach described as “competitive.”
“We still have a fairly young team, but they’re gaining the confidence to become better,” Amy said.
Price seconded Amy’s judgment of top-ranked Holly Springs (26-1), acknowledging them a “top team.” The Golden Hawks defeated Chapel Hill 51-27, scoring the most points against CHHS of any Tiger opponent so far this season.
“It was good experience for us,” Price said.