After grabbing a piece of the Cap-8 regular-season title last season with Sanderson and Millbrook, it appears the Leesville Road wrestling team might not be in a sharing mood this time around.
The Pride established itself as perhaps the team to beat in the Cap-8 on Wednesday night at Millbrook High School, winning 11 of 14 bouts – including the final nine – on its way to a 63-15 rout of Sanderson.
It was a much different story from a year ago, when Sanderson eked out a 40-33 victory over Leesville en route to finishing its fifth straight season with at least a share of the Cap-8 regular-season title.
“It was heartbreaking last year,” Leesville coach Jason Wyss said of the loss to Sanderson. “They’re a tough team, but we wrestled very well (Wednesday).
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News & Observer
“I know at the end of the year (Sanderson coach Nic) Shriner will have them ready to go.”
Leesville (15-1), which later Wednesday defeated Broughton, 63-7, to improve to 3-0 in the Cap-8 and alone in first place, took command against Sanderson with a stretch of decisive victories that broke open what was a close match early.
After the Spartans’ Jimmy Gborrie pinned Cole Jankowsky in 1 minute, 42 seconds in their 160-pound bout to give Sanderson (5-4, 2-1 Cap-8) a 15-12 lead through five individual matches, Leesville won the next five matches by pin, most notable among them Erik Jones’ come-from-behind victory over Kam Blythe at 182.
After Leesville’s Cade Collins put his team in front to stay when he used a headlock to pin Bryan Gomez in 46 seconds at 170 to put the Pride up 18-15, Jones trailed 4-1 in the first period of his match against Blythe before locking his foe in a cradle to secure a pin in 1:49 that kept Leesville in front.
“We were very happy for him, he works really hard in the room,” Wyss said of Jones. “It was a big momentum swing, he was down a little bit, got slammed on the floor, and kept plugging away and it paid off for him.”
Mike Kehoe (195), Chris Judson (220), and Brandon Govan (285) followed with first-period pins, removing any doubt about the match’s outcome, and Jason Mills concluded the match in impressive fashion when he pinned Woodson Wisz in 49 seconds of their 126 bout.
Mills acknowledged some shirts worn by Sanderson’s wrestlers provided a little bit of extra motivation.
“They have T-shirts that say ‘5 Time Conference Champions’ on them,’” Jason Mills said. “I don’t think they’ll be wearing them anytime soon.
“We beat them where we needed to beat them. It was great.”
Dan Mills opened the match for Leesville at 132 with a pin of Aaron Geter in 2:28. Sanderson followed with back-to-back victories as Adrian Davenport got a pair of third-period takedowns to pull away for a 7-3 decision over Zach Hedgepeth at 138 and Marquise Bowens used a cradle to pin Ethan List in 1:13 at 145.
Leesville’s Cole Collins pinned Damarius Jones in 5:11 of their 152 match before Gborrie secured Sanderson’s final individual win.