The PAC-6 Conference wrestling championship has been a juggling match between Northern Durham and Riverside in recent years.
Riverside, less than five miles from Northern, won the title in 2015. But the Knights captured this year’s championship with a 42-34 victory at home over the Pirates on Friday night.
“It’s awesome,” Northern senior Demazio Samuel said. “Riverside has been our rivals for a lot of years, so it feels good to come up on top. We had some uncertainties about some weights, but we pulled it out and came on top. I’m very glad that my teammates gave it all on the mat and we came out victorious.”
Northern finished the PAC-6 season a perfect 6-0, while Riverside ended up 5-1.
Northern got a crucial victory at 142 pounds after Riverside freshman DeAnthony Bright was called for an illegal slam half through the second period. Bright was up 10-1 at the time, and if he had hung on for the major decision, the Pirates likely would have won the match. But Sam Harding got the win that gave Northern a 39-16 lead with five bouts remaining. Robbie Rich’s 8-4 win at 160 then clinched it for the Knights.
“We left in the hands of the referee; he had to make the call,” Riverside coach Brandon Palmer said. “It stings because we were well on our way to a major (decision) so the outcome likely would’ve had us winning 38-36. It’s disappointing to see it end like that knowing that by and large we won a significant portion of the match. But it was close.”
Knights coach Matt Brown said the call was correct. Harding, he added, has a concussion and will miss the state dual-team playoffs.
Northern’s Zach Peyton needed only 26 seconds to pin Joe Flores in another crucial bout.
They said it
Palmer on the illegal slam ruling: “If I’m a referee, I don’t know if I make the call. But then again, I don’t know if I have a lawsuit if I don’t make that call.”
Out of bounds
After Sui won at 132, the referee alerted Northern that Hai Siu’s hair, overflowing out of his headgear, probably needed to be cut. Brown, who is bald, then joked, “Are you talking to me?”