West Stokes wrestlers kicked off their conference season in a hard-fought 42-30 road loss to North Surry.
“We wrestled really tough, but some mental mistakes happened in a few of our matches that hurt us. It came down to bonus points and they were able to get those,” said Wildcats coach Buck Watkins.
Carson Goins, ranked No. 6 in 2-A by RetroRankings.com in the 106-pound weight class, won by decision to Greyhound 10th-ranked Reid Walker.
The next two matches were two of the most competitive of the night, and ultimately made the difference for North Surry. At 113, Quinn Walker outlasted West’s Nicholas Smith by a 6-5 score.
Then at 120, North’s Zackery Jones and Victor Moore wrestled to a draw after three periods. Jones scored in the sudden-death overtime to earn a 6-5 victory.
The Hounds went on to lead 18-3 and appeared to be pulling away, but West Stokes wasn’t going down without a fight and the Wildcats made their presence felt in the next four matches.
At 138 and 145, West’s Tim Hurd and Noah Hall both scored pin victories, and then their teammate Tino Martinez scored a 5-0 decision victory at 152, tying the team score at 18. When Steven Wright scored a pin of his own at 160, the Wildcats regained a 24-18 lead and appeared to have the momentum.
On the other hand, North Surry was down by just a few points, with a lot of its best still to come.
West Stokes’ Devin Newsome scored a pin at 285 to end the match, but matters had been decided by then.
“West Stokes is a very good team,” said North Surry coach Eric Jessup. “Our guys felt like they had been in a war tonight.”
Watkins credited his team with drive and persistence.
“As a coach I believe every time our guys step on the mat we can win no matter who it’s against. North Surry was a starting point and after the match I think the guys really began to realize we just have to wrestle a full six minutes.”
Watkins said his freshmen, Goins and Hall stepped up.
“Last year Carson lost to the guy he beat this time. He’s only been wrestling for two years and he really has something I can’t teach and that’s a desire to win. Noah started off the season kind of doubting himself and getting in a slump. He practices much harder now which has really helped him. He’s a strong kid.”
On Friday, West used what they learned earlier in the week to clinch their first conference win of the season against Forbush.
“I think we wrestled our best match yet. Every guy was going out to win, but a few mental mistakes made the match closer than it should have been. None of our matches will get any easier from here on and we have to be prepared every time,” Watkins said.
Goins won by decision while Hopwood, Hurd, Hall, Wright, and Conn finished with pins. Newsome and Moore both had forfeits.
“Noah Hall and Micah Hopwood both had huge pins. It really turned the dual meet around for us as a team. I knew going into the match we would win the dual if we won those weight classes, but both of them getting pins really sealed the deal,” the coach said.
Watkins believes his team will peak at the right time.
“I hope we continue getting better. I think we have something special this season. I know the competition won’t get any easier but my guys will continue to train even harder. We’ll just have to want it more than the other guys,” he said.
West Stokes travels South Stokes for a conference matchup this Friday beginning at 7 p.m.