Going out on top in any sport is a feeling like no other. That’s exactly what Carson Dean did in his final conference match with Leesville Road – literally and figuratively.
The senior wrestler went into the last match of Saturday’s Cap Eight Conference tournament with his team down two points to Sanderson. Dean was quickly able to pin Derrick Dreier to win the 160-pound weight class and conference title for his school, causing an eruption from the crowd.
Dean won each match before the finals by way of pin, giving him plenty of energy heading into the match. The moment was a massive one for the senior, who missed out on a chance last season with the tournament canceled.
“I finally got my chance as a senior and did it for myself and the team,” Dean said. “This is pretty much everything for me. After injuries and other issues kept me from this, it’s a huge relief. Senior year, going out on top as an individual and as a team? That’s awesome. I couldn’t ask for more.”
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
That moment was the exclamation point for an exhilarating conference tournament. Leesville won with 151.5 points while Sanderson came up just short in second place at 147.5 points. Millbrook, which tied with Sanderson and Leesville for first in the regular season, tallied 138 points to take third.
Dean’s triumph was preceded by Zach Jones’ win in the 138-pound weight class, who was the only other conference champion from the Pride. Wake Forest’s Sander Cypher’s win at 145 pounds over Marquise Bowens gave Leesville a window of opportunity, down just two points before Dean’s match.
Cypher also won the most exciting match of the day – needing two extra periods to decide the 5-3 victory. His mindset going into extra time was simple against a wrestler who handed him a loss earlier in the season.
“Don’t lose,” Cypher said with a laugh. “I’m not going to lie, he destroyed me the last time we faced each other. I got back in the mat room and worked on things that I knew would work against guys who are quicker and stronger than me.
“This helps my seeding a lot and I needed that. This one gives me a break and keeps me out of four tough matches. I don’t know how else to describe it except for great.
Along with Cypher, Joey Hannum, Nick Mutio and David Walker also won conference titles for Wake Forest. Mutio capped off an undefeated season at 31-0 and will be looking to qualify for states for a third time as a junior.
Millbrook’s Crayton Saby and Vincent Ngwu won at the 113-pound and 285-pound weight classes, respectively. Despite not winning the conference, Sanderson still had three champions with David Losada, Brandon Barrentine and Jalil Monk. Barrentine was also named Cap Eight wrestler of the year.
Leesville coach Jason Wyss knew the team win was huge, but still pointed out his team has a lot to work on before the regionals begin.
“This was very big,” Wyss said. “We were really disappointed last year that we weren’t able to wrestle for a conference championship. Since we hosted this year, there was no way it was going to be canceled.
“I still have mixed emotions, though. We won the championship but finished 2-5 in the finals. We’ll have to turn it up a notch to compete the rest of the way. This tournament is a springboard for us, so we aim high, and this serves as a starting point in the postseason.”
With Dean leading the way, the Pride still have a lot to look forward to in the coming weeks. Thanks to having plenty of depth at the top, the Cap Eight will be a conference to reckon with in the postseason.
Other Cap Eight champs were: Anthony Brito (Heritage, 126 pounds), Lamont Burt (Broughton, 152) and Tyler Elliott (Wakefield, 195).