Orange dominated the Big Eight Conference wrestling tournament last weekend, placing in the top four of every weight category but one Saturday in the league's post-season event at Chapel Hill High School.
Five Panthers won their respective weight class and five others finished second, helping Orange amass 221 points in the tournament. The hosts from Chapel Hill scored in 10 of the 14 weight classes – three Tigers winning conference championships – to end up 161 points.
Northwood (110 points) placed third, Cedar Ridge (88) fourth and Southern Durham (69) fifth. Webb (48) was sixth, Northern Vance (38.5) seventh and Cardinal Gibbons (37) eighth.
Chapel Hill coach Tripp Price said heading into the tournament that his program's goal has been to catch up with 13-time conference champion Orange, and the Tigers seemed to be gaining ground Saturday. Chapel Hill wrestlers went 2-3 in head-to-head meetings with an opponent from Orange in the championship finals.
At 106 pounds, Chapel Hill's Samuel Gunning won a hard-fought, 13-12 decision over Justin Hutchins of Orange, and Camden Bergey of Chapel Hill won the 170-pound title by pinning the Panthers' Logan Smith at the 3:27 mark.
Orange freshman Bailey Hawkins pinned Chapel Hill sophomore Wesley Kelly 4:15 into their final at 113 pounds, and Gonzolo Gracia Contoral felled Chapel Hill's I'Money Rushing at 5:20 into their 132-pound final. Orange 285-pounder Byron Stephenson, undefeated against Big Eight opponents in his senior year, decisioned Chapel Hill junior R. Hudson Price, 3-0.
Joe Scott of Orange won the 138 title with a 17-1 technical fall of Southern Durham's Jayr Lewis, and Panther teammate Trent Tanner won the 145 championship with a 3-1 decision against Northwood's Grayson Bryant.
George McBurney provided Chapel Hill with another first-place finish with his 6-2 decision at 220 pounds against Matthew Darby of Southern Durham.
Northwood was led by Hunter Queen, who won at 160 pounds by decisioining Orange's Alex Coats 6-0, and Michael Queen, who decisioned Orange's Payton Wilson 8-2.
Grady Pritchard produced a title for Cedar Ridge at 152 pounds with a 4-3 decision against Orange's Melik Jimenez.
James Taylor won Southern Durham’s lone championship with a 13-6 decision at 195 pounds over Northwood’s John Dunning.
Chapel Hill and Orange were scheduled to enter the opening rounds of the NCHSAA dual-team tournament on Tuesday. Those first two rounds of matches were completed too late to be included in Wednesday's edition of The Chapel Hill News. See www.newsobserver.com/sports for results.
Winners from Tuesday’s second round advance to the state’s third round and regionals, to be held Thursday night at various sites yet to be announced by the NCHSAA. The state dual-team championships are scheduled for Saturday, hosted in each classification by the highest seeded teams left in the tournaments.
The state individual tournament begins Feb. 13-14, and the state championships are scheduled for Feb. 19-21 in Greensboro.
Big Eight Champions
106: Samuel Gunning, Chapel Hill
113: Bailey Hawkins, Orange
120: Justin Perry, Webb
126: Nolan Malugen, Webb
132: Gonzalo Garcia Contoral, Orange
138: Joe Scott, Orange
145: Trent Tanner, Orange
152: Grady Pritchard, Cedar Ridge
160: Hunter Queen, Northwood
170: Camden Bergey, Chapel Hill
182: Michael Queen, Northwood
195: James Taylor, Southern Durham
220: George McBurney, Chapel Hill
285: Byron Stephenson, Orange
106: Justin Hutchins, Orange
113: Wesley Kelly, Chapel Hill
120: Zachary Allen, Chapel Hill
126: Ian Anderson, Northwood
132: I'Money Rushing, Chapel Hill
138: Jayr Lewis, S. Durham
145: Grayson Bryant, Northwood
152: Melik Jimenez, Orange
160: Alex Coates, Orange
170: Logan Smith, Orange
182: Payton Wilson, Orange
195: John Dunning, Northwood
220: Matthew Darby, S. Durham
285: R. Hudson price, Chapel Hill