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.
“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.”