North Surry finished with the highest team total at the Northwest Conference wrestling tournament Saturday.
The Greyhounds tallied 220.5 points in the individual-style tourney as six of 14 wrestlers won their weight classes. Two Hounds finished second, and four won the consolation brackets for third place.
Bishop McGuinness was second with 145.5 before East Surry and Surry Central nearly tied for third.
The Eagles had a slight lead going into the championship round, but the Cardinals wound up with 117.5 to the Eagles’ 116.
West Stokes was fifth at 104, South Stokes sixth at 80, Mount Airy seventh at 66.5 and North Stokes eighth with 31.
The two packed weights in this tournament were at 106 and 220.
At the opening weight, North Surry’s Austin Rozier is ranked in the state, East Surry’s Eddie Nunez is an honorable mention and Jackson Blizzard was ranked until recently. Nathon Bautista, Surry Central, isn’t ranked, but came in with an impressive 33-4 record.
All four advanced to the semifinals. Bautista took down Rozier, while Blizzard topped Nunez. In the finals, Bautista earned a 12-7 decision for the title. Rozier beat Nunez for third place.
At 220, Greg UpChurch, East Surry, is ranked first for 1A, while Central’s Wes Brown is ranked first for 2A. North’s Zach Creed is right behind at second for 2A.
The field was so packed that South Stokes’ Brandon Lawson, ranked fourth in 1A, chose to move up to heavyweight and finished fourth.
UpChurch pinned Creed near the end of their match, and Brown pinned West Stokes’ Michael Schuler to put the two number ones together for the third time this season. They split their first two meetings, the only loss of the season for either one.
UpChurch got three takedowns on Brown, who escaped each time. However, Brown could never take the senior down and lost 6-4.
Creed beat Schuler for third place.
The rest of the finals featured a heavy dose of Hounds.
Austin McMillian (113), Tristen Brannock (120), Austin Collins (145), Levi Slate (170), Logan Younger (182) and Austin Riggs (195) each won first place, while heavyweight Tyler Dowling finished second. Devyn Green (138) and Duke Gregory (160) won third places.
For Collins, the finals win made 100 for his career.
“I feel blessed to have him back at this point in the season,” said Coach Eric Jessup. Two weeks ago, he worried that Collins might be done for the season with an injured shoulder. After an MRI, Collins (31-4) was cleared to return.
For East Surry, the consolation bracket found a streak of wins late in the day. The Cards took all four third-place matches: Austin Bryant (113), Joe Gibson (120), Jimmy Speer (145) and Keanu Kelly (152).
Jacob Fregia, the top-ranked 160-pounder in 1A, faced off in the finals against Jacob Tilley, West Stokes, the top-ranked wrestler in 2A.
Fregia won in their only meeting in the regular season, but in this one Tilley proved tough to shake — literally. Every time Fregia was on bottom, Tilley held tight and refused to give up the escapes.
Tilley won 4-2, giving Fregia his first loss of the season. The performance earned Tilley the Most Outstanding Wrestler award.
Jessup said he was proud of the sportsmanship shown by Fregia, who hugged Tilley and shook hands with the West coaches before leaving the mat despite his obvious disappointment in the finish.
“I didn’t wrestle my best,” he said simply in the hallway afterward.
Teammate Cody Gaskell also earned a second-place finish at 195. Gaskell got a pin in the first round, then beat T.J. Daniel, West Stokes, 11-6 in the semifinals before losing to Riggs in a narrow 7-4 decision.
Surry Central had five wrestlers in the finals, but Bautista was the only one to come out on top.
Kevin Pack (113), Raymond Dance (138), Humberto Moreira (182) and Brown finished in second place. Mason Snow (126) and Bryant White (195) won their third-place matches.
Snow barely lost 6-2 to Alexander Preudhomme, Bishop, who is ranked second in 1A. White also lost a decision, 11-3 to Riggs, the eventual champion.
Three wrestlers placed for the Bears, and another put on a good performance at heavyweight.
With Brandon Lawson (32-11 coming in) moving up from 220, Brian Bennett (9-17 coming in) knew he had his hands full.
Bennett fought well throughout the match, then pinned Lawson with only 14 seconds left.
In the semifinals, he was tied with Dowling near the end of the match when he went for a risky leg takedown. Dowling reversed him and earned two important points in a 5-2 decision.
In the consolation bracket, Bennett fought Dakota Moorefield, West Stokes to a 0-0 tie for most of the match before Moorefield got a single escape for the win. If he had won that battle, Bennett would have faced Lawson again in the third-place match.
One of the most enthusiastic reactions to a win came at 132 where freshman Triston Mabry beat North Surry’s Dakota Key 8-7 for third place. Mabry leapt to his feet and then onto his coaches and the Bears fans in attendance applauded.
Jessup said he liked the looks of Mount Airy’s freshman duo of Mabry and Shay Wilson (126). Wilson won his first two matches before falling to Preudhomme.
Both Mabry and Wilson have more than 30 wins on the season, joining Blizzard, a sophomore, in that milestone. With several other freshmen and sophomores on the squad, the Bears’ future looks bright.
Reach Jeff Linville at email@example.com or at 719-1920.