There’s a lot of history between Green Hope and Panther Creek, especially when it comes to its wrestling programs.
Panther Creek’s opening back in 2006 forced some Green Hope students to transfer to the new school, including some of the Falcons’ top wrestlers. Panther Creek’s wrestling program has grown over the years and they’ve dominated this rivalry since 2009.
That wasn’t the case on Wednesday night.
Green Hope won eight of the 14 matches, got five pins and came away with a 42-27 victory over conference foe Panther Creek in the “Fight for 55” rivalry.
“They opened up back when I was coaching and we lost a lot of good wrestlers to them,” Falcons head coach Chip Bunn said. “They are a phenomenal program and we’re just coming back.”
“I’m ecstatic. ... I asked our kids to believe in themselves and give it their best effort. And we were fortunate that we won.”
Due to a Catamount forfeit in the 152-pound weight class, Green Hope (10-4, 2-3) was able to tie the match at 9-all going into the fifth bout. Noah Baldwin (160) and Sean Kelly (171) got back-to-back pins, giving the Falcons a 21-9 lead.
“When we got the lead, I was confident that we could hold it,” Bunn said. “The pins were a difference but we told our kids to fight off their backs. We didn’t give up the pins and that was difference.”
Though momentum quickly swung in favor of the home team, Panther Creek (8-7, 3-1) showed some resiliency. Chad Laska (182) and Duncan Baldwin (106) each scored a pin in their respective classes, Jonathan Pattishall (220) and Arya Kode (285) both won a decision, and just like that, the match was tied at 27-all.
However, Green Hope went on to take the last three matches, one by decision and two by pins.
“I’m just disappointed in the effort our guys gave,” Panther Creek coach Chad Sichak said. “(Green Hope) just had more heart than we did tonight. They wanted to win and it showed on the mat.”
Both teams will compete in the WRAL Tournament at Athens Drive this weekend.
Bunn was very pleased with his team’s effort and has high expectations going forward.
“I told them we can’t turn back now. We set that bar at a place where we have to reach it and meet it every time.”