Tommy Morrison had the sort of “Senior Night” that most high school students can only dream about.
Morrison, 22-9 this season, won a major decision in Wednesday night’s final bout to cap Chapel Hill’s 76-3 blowout of Cardinal Gibbons.
The score equaled Chapel Hill’s biggest winning margin of the season, duplicating the 76-3 score of a win Dec. 11 against Big Eight rival Oxford Webb.
“What can you say about a win like that except that Tommy wrestled really well, and I thought everyone else did, too,” Chapel Hill coach Tripp Price said.
Before the match started, the team honored Morrison, the Tigers’ only senior, in a small ceremony that included flowers for his parents.
Inspired by the fact that this was his last conference match in front of a home crowd, Morrison dominated Cardinal Gibbons’ 138-pounder John Hart.
“Since it was my last home match, I felt I should go out there and be aggressive, and that’s what I did,” Morrison said.
Morrison shot for Hart’s legs in the first seconds and scored a takedown for a lead he would never lose. That began a cycle of takedown-escape-takedown and near pins that earned Morrison a 10-3 lead after two periods.
“At first I wanted to go out there and just have some fun,” Morrison said. “When it started to get toward the end, I really wanted to pin him.
“I had his arm all the way up his back, but I just couldn’t seem to get him pinned. ... It was a little bit frustrating.”
Morrison had to settle for tying Hart into knots for the final 60 seconds and taking away a 16-4 win.
Morrison’s strategy of the quick, opening shot fit in exactly with Price’s and co-coach Jared Campbell’s strategy.
“We’ve been working lately on being crisper, on being more aggressive,” Price said. “I felt we went out there tonight and took more shots. I hope that’s the direction we’re headed.”
Throughout the night, Campbell urged most of the Tigers to “pull the trigger ... pull the trigger.”
Most of the Tigers did exactly that.
Starting with Erik Jens at 145 pounds, the first three Tigers pinned their opponents in under a minute. Jens nailed his man in 47 seconds; Henry Hogan (152 pounds) pinned his opponent in just 27 seconds and Camden Bergey (160) did the same in 57 seconds.
The cumulative effect was to deflate any hopes Cardinal Gibbons had of sticking close with Chapel Hill.
William Hess drew a forfeit at 170 to make the score 24-0. before Gibbons got its only points of the night on a last second reversal by William Nichols (17-5 this year) for a 2-0 win at 18. Even then, the Crusaders couldn’t muster much enthusiasm.
Two more forfeits made it a 36-3 lead before Chapel Hill’s Hudson Price earned a pin in 50 seconds to make it 42-3. Another forfeit at 106 was followed by three more falls.
Knowing Gibbons would forfeit at 106, Price inserted Wesly Kelly to accept the win and asked Zachary Allen wrestled up to 113. Allen was down 0-2 to David Wicklin after one period and trailed 1-4 before he reversed positions midway through the second period and almost immediately flipped Wicklin for a pin at the 3:28 mark.
Joseph Guilavagui (120), I’Money Rushing (126) and Eliot Martin (132) all followed with pins to set up Morrison’s finale.
Allen, Bergey, Jens, Martin, Morrison, Price and Roberto Sibrian all have more than 20 wins so far this season.
Wednesday’s win was not the last home match for Chapel Hill, which will wrestle at 4A Raleigh Millbrook this week before hosting a set of duals next weekend and then will face 3A powerhouse Orange on Jan. 29 in Hillsborough.