CHERRYVILLE — The Buckin’ Elk grapplers attempted to make the most of their wildcard invitation into the North Carolina High School Athletic Association playoffs Tuesday evening in Cherryville. Avenging an early season defeat, the Elks nipped East Surry 42-36 before falling to Cherryville 37-32.
The Elkin game plan against the Cardinals involved moving several wrestlers up one weight class in an effort to post more team points. After Tyjae Townsend’s 21-4 technical fall over East’s Travis Dalton and Ryan Patterson’s 22-second fall of Adam Rutledge of the Cardinals, this plan went into action.
Leading 11-0, the Elks forfeited to East’s Kaleb Tilley. This enabled the Cardinals to close the gap to 11-6 in the team score.
Moving up to the 138-pound weight class, Marcus Orta faced East’s Adrian Caro. Orta built a 6-0 lead before pinning Caro in 5:57 pushing the Elkin lead to 17-6.
Jude Lloyd moved up to the 145-pound class to compete against Triston Russell of the Cardinals. Lloyd delivered an 18-5 major decision over Russell and the Elkin lead swelled to 21-6.
Mikey Grubb stepped up to face East’s Joseph Becker at 152 pounds. Becker prevailed with a pin fall at 3:36 to reduce the Elkin lead to 21-12.
Wrestling his first match of the season, Tyler Wood reversed Nathan Cox of the Cardinals to his back but was unable to secure his position and surrendered a pin fall in 1:53 that reduced Elkin’s leads to 21-18.
Ethan Chipman had to weigh in at 154.1 pounds to be able to wrestle in the 170-pound class. The Elkin senior made this leap of two weight classes above his normal weight to pin Dorian Hogan of Cardinal’s in 1:20.
With his team leading 27-18, Jerry Neese stepped up to the 182-pound class to face East’s Stephen Creech. Neese pinned his Cardinal opponent in 1:39 and Elkin’s lead grew to 33-18.
East’s Mitchell Edwards claimed victory by means of forfeit at 195 pounds. This reduced Elkin’s lead to 33-24.
Zach Tilley and Victor Bacho of the Cardinals stepped onto the mat to compete in the 220-pound class. In tactical battle, Tilley prevailed 5-2.
With three matches remaining, Elkin held a 36-24 lead. In two of the remaining contests, Elkin had no competitors effectively making the team score 36-36 before the final contested bout at 285 pounds.
Elkin freshman C.J. Henderson stepped out to face Cardinal senior Morgan East. East is ranked second in the state and was a 2016 state qualifier.
The Cardinals’ East built a 5-0 lead on the young but rapidly improving Elk. Working from the bottom position in the second period, Henderson scored an escape and a takedown before pinning East in 3:52.
“These men have continued to amaze me all season with their toughness, selflessness and perseverance,” said Elkin Head Coach Matt Dunn. “With the forfeits that we have given up all season, the fact that we advanced to the second round of the Dual Team Tournament is very impressive.
“C.J. pulled us out of the fire tonight against East Surry,” Dunn continued, “but all of these kids have made selfless sacrifices throughout the season and I could not be prouder of them.”
In the second match against the Ironmen from Cherryville, the Elks continued to shift their lineup to score points. Fate, with regard to a coin flip at the beginning of the match, played a large role in the decision of this contest.
“At the beginning of a match, the referee flips a coin to decide which team has to first present their wrestlers in the odd and even (1 through 14) matches,” said Dunn. “Both teams wanted to choose even but we lost the coin flip.”
Townsend moved up to 126 pounds and delivered a 20-6 major decision over Jesse Blauvelt of the Ironmen. This gave the Elks a 4-0 lead.
Patterson moved up to 132 pounds to face Cherryville’s Phillip Goretoy. Forty-four seconds into the first period, Patterson’s pin increased the Elkin lead to 10-0.
At 138 pounds, both teams weighed in two wrestlers. This being an “odd” match required Elkin to present first.
“We wanted to get Jude on Nathaniel Lackey, but they obviously did not,” said Dunn. “We had to play our cards first and they took advantage of situation just as we would have had the roles been reversed.”
Marcus Orta moved up to 138 pounds for the second time of the night and Cherryville countered with Lackey. Orta wrestled hard but ultimately surrendered a 14-1 major decision to Lackey taking the score to 10-4.
Lloyd moved up to face Ryan Riffle at 145 pounds. After securing the first takedown, Lloyd pinned Riffle with 1:04 left in the first period increasing Elkin’s lead to 16-4.
“One hundred thirty-eight and 145 were pivotal matches with regard to the team score,” said Dunn. “If we could have gotten the matchups that we wanted with Jude and Marcus, we felt like we would be leading 24-0 or 21-3 going into the 152-pound match, which would have enabled us to win the match at the conclusion of the 170-pound contest.”
Mikey Grubb once again moved up to 152 pounds and pinned Zachary Chick of the Ironmen in 26 seconds. The Elkin lead grew to 22-4.
Following Tyler Wood’s victory by forfeit at 160 pounds, Jerry Neese entered the mat to face Luke Rayfield in the 170-pound contest. Neese won a 9-1 major decision and increased Elkin’s lead to 32-4.
After Jayden Blanton collected a forfeit for the Ironmen at 182 pounds, Christian Parral was pinned at 195 pounds by Cherryville’s Sean Kostiuk. Elkin’s lead was trimmed to 32-16.
At 220 pounds, Zach Tilley faced Jacob Hodge of the Ironmen. In a tactical battle for position, Tilley was penalized for stalling leading to Hodge’s victory and taking the team score to 32-22.
Once again Elkin’s freshman heavyweight was placed in position to decide the match. With three matches remaining, the 285-pound match was the last contested bout.
Henderson faced Benjamin Deviney of the Ironmen in the decisive match. With two takedowns to two escapes, Deviney posted a 4-2 decision over the young Elk effectively securing the victory for his team by cutting Elkin’s lead to 32-25.
Brady Buchanan at 106 pounds and Brenton Lawing at 113 pounds each claimed victory by forfeit and added 12 team points to push Cherryville to a 37-32 victory.
“The game plan was good but in certain situations we did not get the matchups that we needed,” said Dunn. “I could not be prouder of our effort.
“For us to finish 12 and 7 as a team when we were wrestling with six to 10 wrestlers against teams of 14 is truly amazing. These young men have been placed in high pressure situations all year long and asked to do extraordinary things and they have usually come through.”
Elkin will next be in action at the Western NCHSAA Regionals at Avery High School on Friday.