WINSTON-SALEM — Mount Airy brought home two golds from Saturday’s R.J. Reynolds invitational wrestling tournament.
The Granite Bears (17-9 in dual-team matches) were the only 1A school in the 16-team individual-format field. Still they managed to earn third place as several wrestlers placed in the top five for their weights.
The top three finishers for the Bears were at three consecutive weights.
Despite being from a small school, 152-pounder Andrew Moore earned a first-round bye with his 14-4 record. He then won all three matches to take first place.
He pinned Nick Velazquez, West Stokes, and then Nakendrick Clark, Statesville. In the finals, Moore earned a 7-2 decision over Milton Cook, Reynolds.
Moore has now won 10 of his last 11 matches. Along with three forfeits, he is 13-1 since starting the season 4-3.
At 160, Dallas Smith also got a first-round bye with his 20-8 record coming in. He blazed through three wins for the gold medal.
“Dallas was an absolute beast and pinned his way through all three of them,” said Coach Steve Braune. Smith not only earned falls, but did them all in the first period.
First to fall was Quentin West, East Forsyth, then it was Josh Adkins, West Stokes. The victim in the finals was Darius Hunter, McMichael.
At 170, Landon Mumford got a bye with his 21-4 record. He pinned his first two opponents and advanced to the finals to take on Reagan’s Devin Klasic.
Klasic is a good wrestler, but Landon already had pinned him back on Dec. 4 in a tri-match with East Wilkes, Braune noted.
Klasic got his revenge to earn first place, while Mumford settled for second.
Jackson Blizzard might have joined his teammates in the finals, but tweaked his knee in the first match.
Blizzard (6-1 coming in) took on Statesville’s Paris Cauthen (12-3). He was holding his own until hurting the knee in the second period. He gave up a fall soon after that.
To give the knee plenty of support, Braune said Blizzard was sporting plenty of athletic tape and a big Ace bandage when he went out for his consolation match. He won all of his remaining matches to earn third.
He even beat Cauthen 7-5 in a rematch with the third-place finish up for grabs.
At 145, Shay Wilson also took third place. He fell in the first round to James Harris, Reagan. Then he won three straight.
Four wrestlers placed fifth: Alex Howard (106), Daniel Sechrist (113), Cameron Pack (138) and Austin Branch (182).
Colten McMillian (120) and Brian Bennett (heavyweight) took sixth places.
Because of the holidays, the Bears didn’t have three regulars in the lineup: Mason Timmerman (220) and Jamie and Kenyon Smith, who have split time at 132.
Tyler Duty (120) attempted to wrestle up to 132, but went 0-2.
With only 11 weights filled by a regular, Braune was thrilled with the team’s third-place finish.
Reagan took first place with 163 points, with McMichael second at 152.5. The Bears were just eight points behind at 144.5.
Braune said not only was this the best tournament showing of his coaching career, but it is the best showing that Mount Airy has ever had.
At the Blackhawk Invitational last month, the Bears posted 78 points. That was the best team showing until Saturday’s 144.5, he said.
After New Years, the Bears are back in action Thursday night, hosting a tri-match with Bassett and West Davidson at 6 p.m.