RALEIGH — Knightdale wrestling coach Kenny Watkins is confident in the stability of the lower weight classes of his squad.
Southeast Raleigh coach Nathanial Scott also acknowledged the Knights’ toughness in that area of the lineup.
It came as no surprise then that those key matches spelled the difference in Knightdale’s 58-21 win on Thursday.
While the Bulldogs took three out of the four matches wrestled at 170 pounds and above, the Knights dominated the lower end of the scale with five first-period pins to go with a major decision in the seven bouts that took place from 106 to 160 pounds.
“They’re strong in that area,” Scott said. “We’ve got some younger kids there and it’s tough to go against people who are older and more experienced. Knightdale did a good job.”
Sitting on a 6-6 tie after the first two matches of the night, it was 145-pounder Bobby Samuels who sprung a rally for the Knights. Samuels carded nine second-period points on his way to a 16-3 major decision and set the stage for Knightdale pins by Bradley Skinner (44 seconds) at 152 pounds and Adam Bridges (52 seconds) at 160.
“He stepped up big,” Watkins said of Samuels. “He went out and got the major for us. That was a huge match for us. We didn’t miss a beat there.”
Bridges’ victory pushed the Knightdale lead to 22-6 before Southeast garnered some leverage in the upper weights. Levincent Clark took a commanding lead at 170 before finishing things off with a second-period pin. A late takedown allowed Christopher Saunders to escape with a 3-2 decision at 220 and a pin at 285 by Shuler Phillip brought the Bulldogs within striking distance at 34-21.
But just when things were looking up for Southeast, the match looped around back to the lower weights and Knightdale’s strength. Tramal Turner, Joshua East and Martin Gutierrez each earned pins for the Knights at 106, 113 and 126 pounds respectively.
“Most everyone did their jobs,” Watkins said. “Our 106, 113 and 120 pounders have been wrestling solid. Our 145 and 152 are usually solid. And 132 and 138 we’re getting guys in the right weight classes. So we’re getting stronger as we’re progressing.
“Tramal Turner has really worked hard, especially over the (winter) break. At practice he was there early every day. He’s really been a leader. He’s the smallest kid on the team but he’s got one of the biggest hearts and he’s a leader by example.”
Donday Washington also earned a pin for the Knights, doing so at 182. Forfeits were won at 120, 132 and 195 for Knightdale.
D'Arius Washington won the opening match of the night for host Southeast by pinfall at 132.
“It went about how I expected,” he said. “We have two kids out and coming off of one day of practice is tough. But Knightdale was in the same position and they were just better than us.”