DURHAM — For the second year in a row, Panther Creek left the Bull Durham Holiday Classic with a first-place trophy.
Four individuals also took first-place hardware back to Panther Creek – Mike Sutton in the 285-pound class, Cameron Shaffer in the 170-pound class, Nathan Allison in the 120-pound class and Shovan Bhatta at 113.
Allison was particularly dominate as he pinned both his opponents in the early rounds and defeated Jordan’s Spencer Service by major decision in the championship bout.
“Nathan has worked really hard, continually,” Catamounts coach Jon Armfield said. “He wrestles in the offseason, he works hard in the offseason. This is his senior year and he’s having a lot of fun. He had to cut a decent amount of weight to get down to 120 but he’s worked hard and he’s doing really well with it. We’re really proud of him.”
Armfield urged his team to take the event one step at a time.
“I told them to take it match by match,” he said. “The one thing I said was that we’ll do really well if everybody scores points. Today we had 13 out of 14 wrestlers score points and that’s what it takes.”
The Catamounts are the first team to repeat as champions. Jordan, host and runner-up, has never won the event but was as close as ever in this year’s classic. The Falcons also took four of the individual weight class titles.
For the second year in a row, Falcons 126-pounder Robert Tomasic was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler. He won his weight class with a 9-1 decision against Bishop McGuiness’ Alexander Preudhomme.
“He’s a third-year wrestler,” Jordan coach Philip Davanzo said. “He’s only been wrestling three years and he’s a two-time state place winner. He’s just got an incredible work ethic and he’s a student of the sport. He’s almost like a seventh coach in our room. He’s a great leader by example.”
With a narrow 3-2 win in the final match, Wade Clifton took the 106-pound title for Jordan and teammates Tyrece Jones and Kartaoui Allal won the 182-pound and 138-pound classes, respectively.
Western Harnett took third place and Durham School of the Arts finished fourth. The Bulldogs also finished fourth in the event last season, but coach Chase Kernodle said that this year’s team is much different.
“This year’s team is weird,” he said. “Last year’s team was a lot of juniors and seniors that had been wrestling with me for a while. This year we’re either seniors or freshman I feel like. And so, it’s a lot of peaks and valleys.”
Though denied the title for the fifth straight year, Davanzo said his Falcons team accomplished their goal, especially after what he described as a difficult week in training.
“Our goal every tournament we go is top-three or top-two,” he said. “And really all we tried to do this year to motivate our guys was telling them to go out and have some fun. Have faith and confidence in your training and everything else will take care of itself.”