Orange Wrestling Wins 10th Regional Championship, Faces Piedmont for 3A State Title Saturday

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Updated: February 2, 2018

There was an old story about George Steinbrenner when he ran the New York Yankees. He said it wasn’t the winning that made the Yankees the envy of Major League Baseball. It was the collecting.

Orange Wrestling knows what it’s like to collect. They also know what redemption is, and they want to feel it on Saturday.

For one day at least, the Panthers will savor its tenth Eastern Regional championship, the first under new head coach Spenser Poteat.

For the second year in a row, the Panthers ventured into an opponents home gym in Cumberland County and came away regional champions. Last year, it was Gray’s Creek. On Thursday night, the challenger was stiffer.

Cape Fear was 15-0 and ranked #2 in by NCmat.com, only behind Orange. They had six wrestlers ranked in the state. Orange arrived shorthanded, losing 170-pounder Trey Jones to a knee injury in Tuesday’s 2nd round victory over Eden Morehead.

That forced Poteat to have several of his grapplers “go heavier,” or wrestle a weight class higher. Josiah Ramirez, normally a 182-pounder, competed at 195. Undefeated senior Brandon Homsey wrestled at 220.

And the Panthers hardly missed a beat.

Orange won four consecutive matches at the heavier weights, including a crucial pin by Caleb Brimmer at 182 pounds over Tyone Tillman at 1:28 of the 3rd period, and went on to defeat the Colts 32-30. Orange led 30-15 before forfeiting the final three matches.

Levi Anderson started the night with a major decision at 145 over Devan Reynolds 15-3. Without Jones, Orange forfeiting 160, falling behind 12-4, but senior Avery Jenkins started to make up that deficit with a critical 4-3 victory against Joey Saldana where Jenkins got the margin of victory with a 3rd period takedown.

After Briimmer’s pin, Ramirez defeated Nick Minacapelli 9-2 to increase the Panther lead to 16-12. Homsey notched his own major decision, 12-2, against Chris Matthews. At 106, Kessel Summers defeated Dylan Bryant 8-3. At 113, senior Mitchell Askew pinned Hudson McFadyen at 4:30. Another senior, Justin Hutchins, scored the most thrilling win of the night when he got a takedown against Jack Culberth with :15 remaining in the third period, sewing up the win for Orange.

In the regional championship match, Orange defeated West Brunswick 43-31, scoring six pins in the process. Mario Manduiano started the night with a 11-6 victory over Jeremiah Daily at 152.

Trailing 10-3 in the fourth match, Ramirez pinned DeVontae Frank in :58 at 182. Homsey followed by pinning Sae’vyon McVray in 2:14. At heavyweight, Daylan Alston put the shoulders of Emery Resendez to the mat at 1:23, giving Orange a 21-13 lead.

Orange won the final four matches to take the regional championship. It started with Mitchell Askew earning a major decision over Matthew Smith 13-4. At 120, Hutchins won his second match of the night by pinning Wyatt Gentile in 2:44. At 120, Gavin Wiggins pinned Julian LeGrande in 2:43. Senior Bailey Hawkins, in his only match of the night, completed the win with a pin of Gavin Bipes in 1:00.

On Saturday in the 3A State Championship match, Orange will get a rematch against Piedmont, the team that defeated Orange 34-32 last February in Monroe for the state title in what turned out to be Bobby Shriner’s final match as Orange coach.

The Panthers will face Piedmont on Saturday at noon at the Greensboro Coliseum Fieldhouse.

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