For the first time in 11 years West Stokes wrestling program clawed their way to the top of the Western Piedmont Conference earning the championship title alongside North Surry. To get there, they defeated Surry Central 40-31 on Wednesday night at home.
“I think we wrestled well. It wasn’t our best technique wise, but we gutted it out and came out on top,” said coach Buck Watkins. “This was a tough match. My guys did great and I’m super proud of what we accomplished.”
Carson Goins, Evan Wall, Steven Wright, and Jacob Conn each earned a pin. Micah Hopwood, Tim Hurd and Tino Ramirez won by decision and Victor Moore by forfeit.
Watkins said Wall’s pin changed the momentum of the match for his team.
“We came out and thought he would have a forfeit. All of a sudden they bumped up to send a wrestler out. Not only did he win, but he picked a huge fall,” the coach said.
As a second year coach, Watkins has worked year-round to help Wests’ wrestling program become competitive and this season earned Western Piedmont Conference coach of the year.
“It means a lot to me and I knew we had a shot this year to win it. The guys really bought in after losing to North Surry. We let that slip away from us, but it helped us get better. I’m very proud and excited for the future,” he said.
At Saturday’s WPAC tournament held at Carver, the Wildcats finished with 114 points coming in third place behind North Surry and Forbush. Surry Central came in fourth, South Stokes fifth and Carver sixth.
Moore, in the 120-pound weight class and Hurd in 138 earned first place conference titles. Goins at 106 and Wright at 160 placed second alongside Ramirez (152) and Conn (170) who came in third place.
“We wrestled really well for the most part. It’s always tough wrestling the same opponent again that you wrestled during the dual meet. We have some adjustments to make after Saturday. We lost some close matches we’d won earlier in the year, but we’re training to come out on top for Greensboro,” Watkins said.
The coach believes the competition his athletes have faced in their own conference will help them on the mat in weeks to come.
“It’s pretty competitive. I’m not worried about our conditioning at this point because all my guys are in great shape and can wrestle six minutes or more hard. Now we can focus on correcting small mistakes and finishing some techniques,” he said.
Amanda Dodson can be reached at 336-813-2426 or on Twitter at AmandaTDodson.