HENDERSONVILLE — Mount Airy and East Surry wrestling teams were set to travel to the 1A West Regional Tournament today, barring inclement weather.
The weather forecast at host Hendersonville High School was for only rain with a temperature in the mid-30s. However the roads in between could be an issue for some school districts.
As for the wrestling, after spending much of their seasons against 2A and bigger squads, the Bears and Cardinals finally will compete against similar schools.
Powerhouse West Wilkes may be the odds-on favorite to qualify several wrestlers, but both East Surry and Mount Airy are hoping to make some noise.
Also from the Northwest Conference are Bishop McGuinness, North Stokes and South Stokes. Along with the Blackhawks, the others from the Mountain Valley Conference are Alleghany, East Wilkes, Elkin and North Wilkes.
The matches are scheduled to begin today at 5:30 p.m. and then continue Saturday at about 8:30 a.m.
Cards Coach Darrin Haywood said he is taking nine boys down.
“Each one can compete at this level,” he said. “We are looking forward to having a good tournament and hope to have a few state qualifiers.”
“The kids have worked hard to this point,” he said. “We are looking to finish the season strong.”
Steve Braune, who coaches Mount Airy along with Michael Bodnar, said the Bears got a couple of rough seeds at the lower weights, but overall he is pleased with the seedings.
The Bears finished second to North Surry in the conference tournament, finished high at the R.J. Reynolds tournament and put up a good fight against West Wilkes in the dual-team playoffs, Braune noted.
Except for giving up two forfeits, Mount Airy only lost to the perennial state champions 32-24, he pointed out.
“We can compete here,” he said.
East Surry’s Eddie Nunez is the top seed at 106 and takes on Chance Storey, Thomas Jefferson.
Mount Airy’s Alex Howard is the 10th seed and faces Ethan Orr, Rosman.
At 113, Mount Airy had another 10th seed as Daniel Sechrist takes on Ethan Swearengin, Cherokee.
East Surry’s Timmy Norman, who had a good showing in the conference tournament, is the fourth seed and faces Bishop’s Jesse Russell.
Alleghany’s Ty Franklin is the top seed at 120.
Conference foes face off here as the Bears’ Jackson Blizzard, seventh seed, goes at John Kevin Fisher, South Stokes. The two split their season battles.
At 126, Bishop’s Alexander Preudhomme, a past state champion, is second behind Rosman’s Breyer Owen.
East’s Andrew Kozlow is seventh and faces Swain County’s John Miller.
West Wilkes’ Jake St. Germain is the fourth seed and takes on Mount Airy’s Tyler Duty, 13th seed.
The 132 weight class is packed with talent as five of the top six wrestlers from Retro Rankings are in the draw.
Zach Prevette, East Wilkes, is the top seed and Morgan Bagley, South Stokes, is fourth.
Mount Airy freshman Cameron Pack takes on third-seeded Dalton Beaver, Mitchell.
Justin St. Germain, West Wilkes, is an eighth seed, and Bishop’s Evan Starks is 11th.
Two Northwest wrestlers face off in the first round at 138.
Mount Airy’s Shay Wilson faces Bishop’s Nick Trego. In the regular season, Trego nipped Wilson on points with a last-second score.
West Wilkes’ Dustin Huffman is sixth, and East Wilkes’ Derrick Woodie is fifth.
At 145, the top four wrestlers are all from this area.
The top seed is West Wilkes’ two-time state champion Jorge Lima.
The second seed is Mount Airy’s Triston Mabry, who takes on North Stokes’ Trinity Fain.
The third seed is East Surry’s Jimmy Speer, going against Zack Wagoner, North Wilkes.
Fourth is East Wilkes’ Jake Shore.
Keegan Ross, South Stokes, is the eighth seed, and Cherokee’s Jaron Bradley is a highly ranked wrestler, but it could be hard for anyone outside the top four to break through against that lineup.
Only the top four finishers advance to the state 1A tournament next weekend in Greensboro.
It could be because of that tough competition that Alex Ortiz, Central Academy, chose to move up a weight class. Ortiz is the second-ranked wrestler in 1A at 145, according to Retro Rankings, but will wrestle 152.
Cody Mathis, East Wilkes, is the second seed and wrestles Murphy’s Graham Swaim.
Mount Airy’s Andrew Moore is sixth and faces Drew Sturgill, West Wilkes.
The third seed is Daniel Bomar, Mitchell, a kid that Andrew beat earlier this year, noted Braune.
East Surry’s Keanu Love is fourth and takes on Keaton Poole, Thomas Jefferson.
South Stokes’ Matt Poss is eighth and takes on a Walkertown kid, Braune said.
At 160, the top spot goes to Tavi Rivera, Cherokee, who had a very close state final last year with East Surry’s Jacob Fregia.
South Stokes’ T.J. Whaley is third and faces Hunter Moorefield, North Stokes.
The Bears’ Dallas Smith is fourth and takes on Tyler Ellis, Swain.
Thomas Bartley, Elkin is the ninth seed.
The Bears got their lone top seed at 170 where Landon Mumford will take on Oscar Zelaya, Monroe.
Cody Bennett, North Stokes, is sixth. East Surry’s Mitchell Flynt is 14th.
An interesting match will be West Wilkes’ fourth seed, Hayden Sutphin, taking on Bishop’s Frank LaDew.
As Braune pointed out, LaDew was only eligible to compete starting with the second semester, so he only had seven matches. Still, he made it to the final of the Northwest tournament and could be this year’s Cinderella story.
At 182, Mount Airy’s Jordan Atkins is eighth and goes against conference rival Christian Artis, South Stokes.
Several area wrestlers are in this weight class. Bishop’s Nick Castellano is fifth. Dylan Gentry, Elkin, is seventh. Josh Kilby, West Wilkes, is 10th. North Wilkes’ Cody Wagoner is 13th, and East Wilkes’ Austin Bare is 14th.
East Surry’s Cody Gaskell finished third in the state last year at 195 and is back this year as a third seed.
Zach Faircloth, East Wilkes, is the second seed and faces Quinton Byrd, North Wilkes.
The Bears’ Zaqwan Dobson is fourth and faces Vincent Boudreu, Thomas Jefferson.
Corbin Tackett, South Stokes, is the 10th seed and Elkin’s Walker Longworth is 11th.
Mason Timmerman, who transferred to Mount Airy from Elkin, is the fifth seed at 220 pounds. He faces Michael Garrison, Robbinsville.
This is another tough weight as former state champion Rhett Hoy, Hendersonville, is only a fourth seed. Ben Pierce, West Wilkes, gets Hoy in the first round.
Northwest champ Evan Scott, South Stokes, is a second seed, and Alleghany’s Taylor Nester is the third seed. On top is Brandon Stiles, Murphy.
Scott faces North Wilkes’ Jacob Reeves.
Austin Joines, Elkin, is the seventh seed. East Surry’s Jacob Chattin is 11th.
At 285, the top seed goes to Dakota Bell, North Wilkes.
Eithen Sheets, West Wilkes, got the fourth seed and takes on East Surry’s Joshua Stevens.
Mount Airy’s Brian Bennett received the sixth seed and goes against Elkin’s Tyler Stoltzfus.
South Stokes’ Ben Tuttle is the 15th seed and gets the daunting task of second-seeded Michael Montelongo, Cherokee.
Montelongo is big, strong and impressive, according to Braune.