Billy Puckett’s 500th wrestling victory will wait for another day.
Berry Academy and West Mecklenburg beat Butler in a dual-team meet on Wednesday, denying Puckett the milestone. West Mecklenburg beat Berry 40-35 and Butler 40-31; Berry topped Butler 37-36.
“It’s a good victory,” Cardinals coach Charles Clarke said. “It’s a good win for these guys and it’s good to be a part of history.”
The Bulldogs, who were short-handed because of illness, injuries and missed weight, were competitive but couldn’t overcome determined competition.
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“That kills you,” Puckett said. “The other kids stepped in and wrestled well. Inexperience hurt us and we have yet to put together a full lineup this year. Tonight giving up 18 points (via forfeit) kills you.”
Berry Academy jumped to a 28-6 lead against Butler, but needed a 7-0 win by senior Isaiah Jones against the Bulldogs’ Hayden Brown in the 285-pound finale to secure the victory.
“Isaiah wrestled this opponent before,” Clarke said. “This time Isaiah did a lot more shots. Usually heavyweights don’t like to take shots, but we told him ‘You need to start taking shots.’ He was just taking it to him.”
West Mecklenburg got a dramatic finish on the lighter end of the scale. Freshman Nigel Williams pinned Butler’s Jacob Gillmore in the 113-pound match after building a 7-1 lead in the second period.
“We’ve had a season that’s been up and down, but it’s pretty nice to put together a couple of dates that were consecutive and consistently good,” Hawks coach Byron Hughes said. “We’ve got a young team and it’s good to see the improvement.”
Clarke was pleased to earn a split given the way Berry Academy responded to adversity.
“We wrestled (Butler) earlier this season and lost to them, but this time we had a different strategy,” Clarke said. “Our lineup, we changed some of the guys into a different weight class and a couple of guys we know were close to winning we trained a little harder.”