MILLERS CREEK — Three local teams placed in the top seven in the Blackhawk Invitational wrestling tournament Saturday.
North Surry took the top honors as seven of its wrestlers placed in the top four with three winning their weights.
Surry Central wasn’t far behind in fourth, and Mount Airy took a major step forward from last year to finish seventh.
Eleven teams, with about 150 total wrestlers, took part in the individual-style tourney at West Wilkes High. Teams accrued points based on how their wrestlers performed.
In the double-elimination format, wrestlers had to win at least three matches to claim the top spot.
Of the 14 weight classes, four went to local wrestlers, while several others challenged for the title.
The Greyhounds won first place at 120 lbs. with Austin McMillian, 126 lbs. with Tristen Brannock and 195 with Levi Slate.
In the 126 final, Brannock beat West Wilkes’ Jake St. Germain, who finished second in the state for 1A last year. That win earned Brannock the Most Outstanding Wrestler award.
Slate entered the third period of the 195 final tied 1-1 with East Surry’s Cody Gaskell. Slate took Gaskell down, but the Cardinal escaped for a 3-2 score. Neither earned another point for the narrow decision win.
Coach Eric Jessup said he wasn’t sure how his team would respond today with three starters out. Austin Collins had the flu, Dakota Goss had a sore back and Saige Wolfe a sore shoulder.
With Goss out, Dalton Golden wrestled up one weight class at 182 pounds. Rather than struggle, the senior reached the finals and finished second.
Also for the Hounds, Austin Rozier (132) grabbed third place, while fourth places went to Devyn Green (145) and Corbin Bullins (170).
“This may have been the best Blackhawk yet,” said Central Coach Stephen Priddy. The overall competition was great, with just 13.5 points separating the top four teams.
North Surry tallied 127.5 points, edging West Wilkes at 122.5. West Caldwell was a close third at 120.5, then Central at 114.
“You always think you can do a little bit better, but overall I was extremely pleased with how we wrestled,” said Priddy.
Heavyweight Wes Brown won first place, and two other Eagles finished in second.
“Wes looked really good today,” said Priddy. “He saw his best competition so far this year.”
Jared Dimmette had struggled in a couple of matches to start the season after making the switch from football.
On this day, however, he won his first two matches by pin, then lost in the finals for second place.
“I was extremely pleased with how he wrestled,” said Priddy.
At 106, Nathon Bautista finished second. Also for the Eagles, Kevin Pack was third, Bryant White third, Raymond Dance fourth and Nick Coe fourth.
Even the ones who didn’t place like Zack Martin showed improvement, Priddy said.
He mentioned Dance’s strong mindset throughout the day.
Right off the bat Raymond had to face North’s Caleb Lowe, who edged him 5-4 last weekend. Dance pinned Lowe to advance.
In the semifinals, he went against North Davidson’s Seth Murdock (6-0 coming into the tournament).
Murdock won a technical fall on him at North Surry to open the season, but Raymond fought tough with him this time. Even though he lost, Raymond took the match the distance.
Mount Airy continues its drastic turnaround from last year. The Bears earned just 18 team points and had just one wrestler place in the top four last year.
On Saturday, the Bears placed five wrestlers and finished with 78 points, just behind South Stokes.
Three wrestlers advanced to the finals, and two others made it to the consolation finals, noted Coach Steve Braune.
Triston Mabry bumped up from 145 to 152 this week and wrestled well on his feet, said the coach. He won two minor decisions, one by four points and one by six. He lost in the final by a major decision, but did not get pinned, Braune noted.
At 160, Dallas Smith pinned two opponents to reach the finals. He, too, lost a major decision but avoided a fall.
Mason Timmerman, nursing a sore shoulder, still managed to reach the final for 220.
“He got caught in a throw and couldn’t back his way out right at the end of the first period,” said Braune.
“Brian Bennett had a great day,” the coach said. The heavyweight lost to Wes Brown in the first round, but fought for all six minutes without getting pinned.
Then he finished every match early up to the consolation finals, getting a couple of pins and one win where the opponent was flagged for flagrant misconduct for an elbow swing. He lost in the last match to finish fourth.
Jamie Smith also finished fourth at 132. He lost in the first match, then pinned his way to the consolation finals.
Next weekend, Mount Airy and Surry Central will participate in the Mount Tabor Super Duals Friday and Saturday.
North Surry and East Surry will travel to South Stokes for the Joe Via Tournament.