Wrestling: GNRC 4A Individual Championships

West Johnston goes 7-for-7 in finals

CorrespondentFebruary 12, 2013 

— West Johnston went into the final round of the Greater Neuse River 4A Individual Championships with the outcome very much in doubt.

But in that final round, the Wildcats’ wrestlers obliterated everyone in their sights.

West won all seven of its finals matches while in an unlikely coincidence the conference’s seven other teams each had one individual champion. And that was enough for the Wildcats to pile up 183 points to 132 for second-place Knightdale.

East Wake was third with 90 1/2 points followed by Harnett Central with 85, Garner 76, host Smithfield-Selma 69, Clayton 65 and Southeast Raleigh 46 1/2.

West has won either the GNRC tournament or regular-season title or both every year since 2006 and completed their fourth straight sweep this season.

West’s 106-pounder Tony Jimenez beat Knightdale’s Tramal Turner 9-1, 120-pounder Raheem Simmons topped the Knights’ Nick Lopez 9-5, 152-pounder George Nathaniel shocker Knightdale’s Bradley Skinner 11-6, and 182-pounder Zach Morrison pinned the Knights’ Josh Mills in 1:29.

“We had a really good day,” Wildcat coach David Prendergast said. “I liked the fact that George Nathaniel beat the Skinner boy who has beaten him every time before. Each match got closer. When I was going to bump him away at the duels at Sanderson he said ‘Don’t do it. I want to wrestle him. This time he wanted that match in the finals.”

West’s other wins were from Seth Thomas, who topped Central’s Eric McKoy 13-6 at 126; Brian Crutchfield, who beat Garner’s Emon Kizer 7-5 at 138; and Sam Campbell, who pinned SSS’ Zach Rhodes in 2:20 at 220.

Campbell and Thomas had been West’s only winners at the Johnston County championships seven days earlier.

Prendergast said the wins from Crutchfield and Nathaniel put the meet away.

“I felt great,” the junior Crutchfield said. “My match was pretty personal. I had lost to him four times since last year. I just kept working hard and got angry.”

What was even more special for the Wildcats was when Morrison was named the conference’s top regular-season wrestler.

“This feels awesome,” said the senior Morrison, who lives with autism and was evidently a very popular choice with both his teammates and opposing wrestlers. “I never thought I’d get this award. And this was my first-ever gold medal.”

Knightdale got its only win from unbeaten senior Lamar Dulin who pinned East’s Sterling Wilder in 53 seconds at 195.

“Everyone knew coming in West was the team to beat,” Knightdale’s first-year head coach Kenny Watkins said. “They’ve been on top of the podium ever since the Greater Neuse started. We had a chance in the finals, but they got us on every head-to-head. We had high expectations but fell a little bit short.”

The senior Dulin (19-0), who won his first conference title, is choosing among football offers from The Citadel, Gardner-Webb and Winston-Salem State.

“We’re working harder and have better conditioning,” Dulin said. “That was the main thing about it. Coach Watkins has taken us to another level.”

Southeast’s unbeaten 285-pounder P.J. Shuler, who finished Knightdale’s Tyler Palachak in 1:47, was named the meet’s most outstanding wrestler. Knightdale’s Adam Bridges had the fastest pin in 21 seconds.

“This is a big deal,” said the senior Shuler (31-0), who is choosing between UNC Charlotte and Florida International. “Now I’m just working for states.”

Jesus Macias at 160 got the hosts’ only win, pinning Clayton’s Chad Sprouse in 3:58.

“This feels really good,” said Macias, who also took gold at the JoCo championships and is now 36-10. “Hard work pays off. Now I just want to place in regionals and go to states.”

Saturday’s other winners were Garner’s James Box, who beat East’s Cody Staples 5-3 at 113; East’s Daniel Killette, who topped Knightdale’s Brandon Skinner 7-4 at 145; Clayton’s Michael Lines, who nipped Harnett Central’s John Atkins 9-7 at 170; and Central’s David Blalock, who pinned SSS’s Tyler Talley in 2:28.

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