LINCOLNTON – As was expected, the South Fork 2A conference championship wrestling tournament boiled down to Newton-Conover and West Lincoln, a pair of perennial powers that have traditionally dominated the league. While Newton-Conover won the regular-season conference championship, it was the Rebels that left Lincolnton High School with the tournament title Saturday, Jan. 26.
West Lincoln bested the Red Devils by nearly 20 points, 239-219.5, to claim its second consecutive conference tournament championship. Each of the Rebels’ 14 wrestlers who competed in the tournament earned a third-place finish or better, while 12 of the 14 Newton-Conover wrestlers did so.
One look at the overall team results from Saturday’s conference tournament shows the disparity between the league’s top two teams and its remaining five. While West Lincoln and Newton-Conover each eclipsed 200 points, the rest of the conference failed to break triple figures.
Despite disappointing team performances, East Lincoln, North Lincoln and Bandys – which finished in order third through fifth – each had individual wrestlers shine on the league’s biggest stage.
The Mustangs of East Lincoln, which finished just shy of 100 points as a team, had two wrestlers emerge victorious in their respective weight classes.
Carter Williamson, who placed second in this tournament last year, dominated the 182-pound weight class. The East Lincoln senior picked up a pair of victories, pinning North Lincoln’s Devon Speckman in the semifinal before earning a 9-0 major decision victory over Cole Clark of Newton-Conover in the championship match, running his overall record this season to 31-2.
In the 220-pound weight class, it was East Lincoln sophomore Grayson Cannon who claimed victory, earning a 9-3 decision over West Lincoln’s Harley Scronce in the finale. In total, Cannon won three matches in the conference tournament, including a pair of pinfalls in his first two contests, to improve his overall record this season to 27-6.
Several other Mustangs delivered impressive performances despite coming up short, including Alex Biagi, Evan Hines and Avlin Brooke, each of whom finished second after being pinned in their championship matches.
It was junior Andrew Holden who carried the torch for North Lincoln as the only Knight to prevail in his weight class. Holden dominated Lincolnton’s Jonathan Alwran in his first match and then earned a 5-0 decision over Chance Norman of West Lincoln to emerge victorious in the 132-pound weight class. His overall record this season improved to 35-7.
Jorden Schlossman, Jason Mical Ulibarri, Joey Plyler and Aaron Wyatt Painter also delivered noteworthy performances for North Lincoln, with each winning the consolation final to claim a third-place finish in their respective weight classes.
For Bandys, senior Colby Teague was the only Trojan to win his weight class, claiming his second consecutive conference title in the 145-pound division. Teague ran his overall record to 43-1 this season with a 3-1 decision victory over West Lincoln’s Xander Pendergrass in the conference championship match.
Other notable performers for Bandys included Devin McCorkle, who placed second in the 195-pound weight class, and Bryson Burkett, who finished third at 113 pounds.
West Lincoln hosts the 2A West Regional starting Feb. 8 in individual state championship competition.