It was the kind of closely-contested team wrestling match where a handful of moves made the final score look easy.
And Wednesday night against conference rival Western Harnett, the boys from Corinth Holders made those moves.
The Pirates recorded four pins to the Eagles’ three and won most of the close matches, dominating the weight classes between 120 and 145 and rolling to a 42-23 victory to grab first place in the Two Rivers 3A Conference.
Corinth Holders improved to 10-0 and 2-0 in conference action, while Western fell to 9-4 and 1-1.
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“Austin Palmer’s (6-2) win at 126 over Mason Morris was huge,” said the Pirates’ new coach Kristian Stewart, who took the job after a 14-year run at Smithfield-Selma. “Morris is ranked No. 2 and Palmer is ranked No. 7.
“145 was huge. (Sam Bargoil) was down early, and came back and got the pin (over Anthony Guimont in 2:21) and that was real big. They made a strategic move at 182 that gave us a little bit of sweat because we could have lost any of those last four matches, but fortunately we didn’t.”
Western coach Casey Gashaw, whose team lost a point after an unsportsmanlike conduct call, said it was a disappointing but hard-fought loss.
“We knew it was going to be close and come down to a couple of matches,” Gashaw said. “Going in we knew our young guys had to step up. It could have gone either way.”
The match started at 106, with Western’s Trevor Wicker pinning Brian Hines in 2:35 and the Eagles’ Anthony Thompson at 113 squeaking past Jordan Hadding 6-4 before the hosts scored 21 straight points.
Corinth Holders sophomore Cameron Smith at 160 pinned Andrew Smith in 3:29, heavyweight Frankie Miller stopped the Eagles’ Sergio Ramirez in 4:15 and the Pirates’ Nathan Palmer at 120 pinned Eugene Castillo in 5:16.
“I was going up against a strong kid, but I managed to get the pin,” said Cameron Smith (7-0). “I’d say that was one of my biggest individual wins.”
The Pirates’ 132-pounder Greg Alford beat Western’s Jacob Dawson 11-6 and Corinth Holders’ 138-pounder Alex Staples got by Carl Smith 11-6. Dillon Barton at 195 beat Western’s Miles Brown 5-2.
“I was just looking to wrestle smart, make my moves and not get taken down,” Austin Palmer said. “I just wanted to keep my defense up and wrestle as hard as I could. I feel great about our team. We just have to keep working hard in practice.”
Stewart said senior captain Luke Turner’s forfeit victory at 170 was a key to the final result. Western’s Jacob Falemalana slid up to 182, where he nipped the Pirates’ Dylan Brennan 6-5.
“I wasn’t surprised they made that move, because I had pinned (Falemalana) in the first period in a championship round a couple of weeks ago at Western Harnett,” said Turner (19-4). “I think we could have done even better, but wins like this are nice.”
Western’s other wins were at 152, where Jordan Guimont pinned Jay Yancey in 25 seconds, and at 220, where Uriel Medellin stopped Noah Vasquez in 1:43.