BAILEY – In the third round of the NCHSAA 3-A dual team state wrestling playoffs, somewhere no one would have expected Southern Nash to be, the Firebirds had a 12-point lead in just three minutes and five seconds Thursday.
The next 12 bouts ended the Firebirds’ surprising run in the state playoffs.
After losing close bouts at 170, 195 and 220 pounds, Southern Nash succumbed to Jacksonville, 45-21, ending the best dual team season in Southern Nash history.
“Nobody expected us to go this far, even in the beginning of the season,” Southern Nash coach Eddie Coble said. “Everyone’s goal is to be the state champion. Coming off last year, we didn’t know how good we could be. That really wasn’t our goal.”
Jacoby Benjamin, who said after the dual team match that he was going to win the 152-pound state championship, won in just 45 seconds by pin after Clinton Whitaker won by pin at 2:20 in the 145-pound division.
With Jacksonville’s state champion and a few other state qualifiers waiting in the lower weight classes, Coble knew his team had to score early.
That was why he pushed Travis Collins for a late takedown at 195 and hoped Nick Owens could do the same at 170.
Owens couldn’t score, and Collins came up just one point short.
When Ryan Ashley lost at 220 in an extra period, the gap was too great.
“In the end, I don’t know if that would have made a difference, but it would have given us some momentum in those lower weights,” Coble said. “Instead, we’re down so there was no urgency. All the air kind of went out of us.”
Southern Nash won two other bouts at 113 and 138 pounds.
Southern Nash 21
106 – Cameron Bates (J) d. Dakota Collins, 10-3; 113 – Cody Thorne (SN) d. Owen Edwards, :57 pin; 120 – Xavier Ross (J) d. Saul Orduna, 2:45 pin; 126 – Tyler Ross (J) d. Jordan Decosse, 8-2; 132 – Brandon Seward (J) d. Josh Poland, 2:33 pin; 138 – Oseas Palacios (SN) d. Dylan Morris, 7-4; 145 – Clinton Whitaker (SN) d. Sean Ryan, 2:20 pin; 152 – Jacoby Benjamin (SN) d. Ryan Reece, :45 pin; 160 – Christian Heisey (J) d. Warren Ashely, 1:29 pin; 170 – Spencer Clark (J) d. Nick Owens, 8-4; 182 – Tevin Melton (J) d. Diego Salazar, 1:33 pin; 195 – Josh Childress (J) d. Travis Collins, 4-3; 220 – Zaire Harris (J) d. Ryan Ashley, 8-6 OT; 285 – Matthew Reed (J), fft.
Justin Hite can be reached at 407-9951 or firstname.lastname@example.org