CARY — Five bouts into Wednesday’s match, Holly Springs coach Brandon Inge felt like moving a few of his middle-weight wrestlers up one weight class each. It was a move aimed at taking advantage of some would-be match-ups with the hope of breaking open the current tie between his Golden Hawks and host Panther Creek.
And it paid off.
The strength of the middle weights propelled No. 4 Holly Springs past No. 7 Panther Creek 39-30 in a matchup between two wrestling teams ranked in The News & Observer’s top 15.
“We didn’t have a big enough lead at that point, I believe it was tied up going into 138(-pound class), so I decided to make the bump and we got our points,” Inge said.
Following a narrow 33-31 loss to Cary last week, Holly Springs (7-1, 1-1) had to quickly focus its attention to a Panther Creek (8-3, 1-1) team that finished third in the Tri-9 Conference last year after a close regular-season loss to the Hawks.
“We’ve been more motivated,” since the loss, said Inge.
Panther Creek and the Hawks were tied 12-12 before Inge changed his lineup and his wrestlers responded with four straight pins.
Giving up pins was a reason why Holly Springs couldn’t hand Cary its first conference loss in two seasons. But Wednesday, the Hawks were the ones capitalizing, with pins by 106-pounder Aaron Redus (17 seconds), 120-pounder Parker Ragsdale (1 minute, 1 second), 138-pounder Cameron Devers (50 seconds), 145-pounder Javon Johnson (1 minute, 19 seconds), 152-pounder Daniel Richardson (3 minutes, 53 seconds) and 160-pounder Travian Cooke (1 minute, 51 seconds).
Richardson’s was especially huge for the Hawks as he faced PC’s Matt Stober, a state qualifier from a year ago. But Richardson, who only had a few minutes to prepare himself for the different style.
“I knew he was going to come out stronger and try to do a lot of throws on me, so I had to keep myself moving,” said Richardson, a junior. “I still let him get takedowns, but you’ve got to keep up the pace once you’re on the bottom.”
Panther Creek won half of the 14 bouts, but only Shovan Bhatta at 113-pounds was able to get a pin (2 minutes, 26 seconds).
“When we mistakes like that, you can’t expect to beat Holly Springs,” said Panther Creek coach Jon Armfield. “They’re solid all the way through. We knew it was going to be tough all the way through, and I’ve got to give it to coach Inge and his staff, they’ve done a good job with them.”
Nathan Allison (126 pounds), who won 4-1, and Aaron Chan, who won 7-6, each went the full six minutes. Two of their teammates needed longer than that.
PC freshman Miles Kent (132) won 7-5 in a 1-minute sudden death overtime, while Cameron Shaffer (170) pulled off a 4-3 victory in the second 30-second overtime, which is wrestled till its completion following the sudden-death overtime.
Two of the Catamounts’ better wrestlers, Matt Powell (195) and Mike Sutton (heavyweight) won by forfeit.
“The good news is that we still have a chance to share the (Tri-9) title if we win out,” Armfield said. “This team has got to realize that and fight for it.”
Blake: 919-460-2606 or twitter.com/JMBpreps