As a top-seeded wrestler in a tournament, you’re always having to peer over your shoulder for those hunting an upset.
Eight of the 14 top-seeded wrestlers prevailed in Saturday’s Buzzard Brawl held at Fuquay-Varina High School. A total of 30 teams took part and Holly Springs proved the convincing victors with a 292 point total, comfortably ahead of Carrboro (140.5) and Athens Drive (139).
Five Holly Springs wrestlers were anointed the No. 1 seed and three went on to justify the billing with tournament victories. Cam Devers, ranked second in the state at 138 pounds, pinned his way through three matches before earning a 15-4 major decision in the finals over Triton’s Hunter Young.
Teammate Travian Cooke felt the pressure of holding the top seed and was slow to start in his 170-pound finals matchup with Lumberton’s Monquez Townsend.
“He came out immediately and hit me with a gator roll which caught me by surprise but I was able to pick it up and get my momentum going again,” said Cooke, who eventually went on to win 11-4. “All these kids come out here and with their first move they try to hit a big move and catch me by surprise.”
At 285 pounds, Holly Springs’ C.J. Toogood embraced being the number-one seed and after a pair of early pins, held on for a 3-2 semifinal decision and a 5-1 championship win over Kevin Marquez of Lumberton.
“I was happy for the challenge. It’s hard but it’s a privilege,” Toogood said of playing the favorite. “Being the first seed and having the target on your back, you always have a ‘what if’ in the back of your head.”
With a perfect 36-0 record on the season, Green Hope 106-pounder Michael Eastwood knows all about having a target on his back.
“(Being the top seed) does have a little stress but having a sense of accomplishment of being undefeated is a great feeling,” Eastwood said. If Eastwood was feeling any stress, he certainly didn’t show it. The senior earned pins of no more than 46 seconds in his first three matches before a 7-1 decision in the final.
One of the more anticipated matchups of the night came in the 132-pound final when top-seeded Chance Davis of Apex faced second-seeded Trey Cornish of Athens Drive. The two share quite the history together and Davis, who won 8-3, wasn’t surprised to see his old friend again.
“We know each other pretty well. We’ve wrestled a lot since middle school so I just sort of figured that’s the way it would end up. I figured we’d end up in the finals together,” Davis said.
Apparently nobody told Cornish’s teammate, 113-pounder Faris Busisou, that the tournament was all about the number-one seeds. Busisou, a fourth-seeded sophomore, defeated top-seeded Jourdan Leroux of Green Hope in the semifinals before disposing of second-seeded Crawford Mason of Garner for the title.
“I knew that I had already beaten two of the guys that were higher than me,” said Busisou, who along with Pine Forest’s David Russell (fourth seed, 152 pounds) and Lumberton’s Jesse Oliver (fifth seed, 220 pounds) were the only wrestlers outside of the top three seeds to capture a weight class.
Fuquay-Varina’s Daniel Cockerill represented the home team well by claiming the 120-pound title.
“It feels really good to win a tournament that’s at my school because I’ve put in so much work at practice here. So it’s just like practicing almost,” Cockerill said following a 7-3 win over Dante Veltri.
Other winners included Anthony Brito of Heritage (126 pounds), Mitchell Dean of Eastern Alamance (145), Northwood’s Hunter Queen (who defeated Holly Springs’ Elijah Geniesse at 160), Eastern Guilford’s Willie Bivens (182) and John Dunning of Northwood (195).