Winter break was a rest in name only for the Orange Wrestling team. During the holidays, the Panthers competed in the Tiger Holiday Classic at Chapel Hill High, the Eagle Invitational at Eastern Alamance High and hosted the Orange Winter Duals last weekend.

It was during the latter event that the Panthers suffered its first dual losses of the season, both matches coming down to the wire. The Swansboro Pirates defeated Orange 34-28. With three matches remaining, the Panthers led 28-16 after Payton Wilson pinned the Pirates’ Andre Hill in 2:57. Swansboro scored pins at 285 and  113, along with a major decision at 106 to become the first team to beat OHS this season.

Orange’s subsequent 67-7 victory over rebuilding Sanderson wasn’t a formality as much as proof that there’s a first time for everything. It was the first time Orange coach Bobby Shriner coached against one of his sons. Nic Shriner, who graduated from Appalachian State last spring, is now the head coach of the Spartans, who has captured the CAP-8 championship the last five seasons. The dual match features victories by Orange’s Lucas Riley, Christopher Lopeman, Mario Manduiano, Lawrence Bell, Evan Pasley (via pin fall) and Levi Anderson.

Later in the day, Southeast Guilford knocked off the Panthers 35-33. The Falcons scored three pins to earn the win. Orange capped the day with a 63-11 victory over Greenville Rose.

Now the focus is on the Webb Warriors, who visit Jim King Gymnasium tonight at 6. Orange is 16-2, 2-0 in the Big 8 after a thrilling 38-36 victory over Northwood on December 16th.

Among the grapplers who have stood out thus far for Orange is senior Joe Scott at 152, who is 23-3 with 14 pins. Sophomore Bailey Hawkins is 24-5 with 13 pins at 120 (and several matches at 126). Heavyweight Dayles Alston is 24-6 after scoring two pins last weekend. Wilson, who started the season a few weeks late after football season bled into the opening wrestling workouts, is 22-5. He finished in 3rd place at 220 at the Tiger Holiday Classic.

Also tonight, the Cedar Ridge Red Wolves face Chapel Hill at Red Wolves Gymnasium. Cedar Ridge fell to Orange in its last Big 8 dual match. The Tigers figure to be the main challenger remaining for Orange for the Big 8 Conference Championship.

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