The Smithfield-Selma wrestling team went under the spotlight one last time as the Spartans hosted their last Two Rivers 3A Conference dual meet of the season against Triton Thursday.
Fittingly on Senior Night, four seniors—A.J. Blackmon, Chris Parker, Wilmer Rojas and Tyler Talley—all earned pins during their final home meet to propel the Spartans to a 54-28 victory.
With just a solitary light hanging above the mat, a Smithfield-Selma tradition, the Spartans were at their best and improved to 5-2 on the season. Smithfield-Selma, at 2-2 in the conference, is alone in fourth place in the league with one last meet against Corinth Holders remaining before the conference tournament.
“To come out and win your final match as a senior is special,” Spartans coach Kristian Stewart said. “It’s a good motivator for them here at the end of the season to get ready for the conference tournament and postseason, hopefully, states for some of them.”
With Triton forfeiting five matches, the Hawks had a big hole to crawl out of, but pins from Jason Bryant (126 pounds), Hunter Young (132), Christian Canales (152) and Ken Jackson (160) helped give Triton the 28-24 lead.
At 120, Blackmon took an early 5-0 lead over Triton’s Zachary Hunter with a takedown and near fall in the final seconds of the first period and then earned the full six points with a pin early in the second period.
“Tonight was pretty good,” Blackmon said of his last time wrestling at home. “I’m proud that I won today.”
Parker (220) and Talley (138) were in complete control of their matches from the onset and earned first-period pins. Rojas needed a reversal late in the first period of his spirited heavyweight match against the Hawks’ Shawn Lemon to finally get control and earned a pin 11 seconds before the period ended.
For Talley, it was good to be under that spotlight one last time.
“I never wrestled under a spotlight until I moved to North Carolina,” said Talley, who has wrestled for the Spartans for two tears after moving from Ohio before his junior season. “When you go under the spotlight, everything just zones out… there’s no looking back.”
Brandon Deleon (a first-year wrestling senior), Roberts Hicks, Ryan Jones, Anthony Masterton and Jackson Parker all benefited from Triton forfeits and earned wins without needing to wrestle.
“We had a lot of young guys this year but we also had some seniors wrestling here for our last time under the spotlight,” Talley said. “It felt great to get the win.”
Malichi Barnes, Logan Cox, Spencer Powell and Emilio Spells rounded out the rest of the Spartan senior class.
SSS will host the Two Rivers 3A Conference individual championships on Feb. 1.