Two weeks away from the state dual playoffs, the Orange wrestling team appears to have learned the lessons from last year’s crushing postseason loss to Eden Morehead very well.
In Eden last February, the two sides met for the fifth consecutive year in the postseason. It was the most intense and dramatic match yet, with Morehead rallying to win 31-29 despite Orange jumping out to a 12-0 lead. Morehead, trailing 29-28 going into the final individual match, won the final bout to advance. The following week, they would claim its third consecutive Eastern Regional Championship.
Bobby Shriner’s Panthers always wrestle with a purpose, but this year there’s something extra.
Orange is 19-0 after taking all five matches at the Havelock Duals over the weekend at Havelock High School. The Panthers defeated New Bern 51-20, Swansboro 44-19, Southwest Onslow 60-20, North Pitt 67-3 and Havelock 61-9.
Though 19 matches, the closest anyone has come to defeating the Panthers so far came during the Thanksgiving Quad on November 23, when the Panthers defeated Southern Alamance 46-35. The Patriots led that match 23-12 before the Panthers scored pins in five of the last eight bouts.
In Havelock, the closest match of the day was against New Bern. The Bears led 20-6 after five individual matches, but the Panthers won the final eight bouts, six by pinball. After Avery Jenkins edged Sage Carroll 9-8, Charlie Fitzpatrick, Caleb Brimmer, Josiah Ramirez, Braden Homsey and Jamar Davis all scored pins. Heavyweight Daylan Alston finished the match off in style by pinning Chauncey Swann in 1:06.
The only Orange wrestler to earn four victories without a forfeit on the day was Homsey at 182. He pinned Southwest Onslow’s Ethan Brown in 1:58, pinned North Pitt’s Marco Najar in 1:05, scored a technical fall over Swansboro’s Tristen Gee 20-5 and pinned New Bern’s Dontrayal Hil in 2:59.
Coming off his first individual tournament championship at the Roselle Park Invitational in New Jersey, Alston scored three wins in Havelock. After pinning Swann, he decisioned Swansboro’s Patrick Peterson 7-3 and pinned Southwest Onslow’s Kyle Williams in 1:01.
Payton Wilson, currently #1 in the state at heavyweight, made his season debut at heavyweight against North Pitt’s Jeffrey Davis. The result was the fastest pin of Orange’s season, lasting all of eight seconds. Wilson also pinned Christian Smith of Swansboro in 2:36.
At 195, Jamar Davis also scored four wins, including pins of Daniel Rawson (1:37) of New Bern, Marvin Wigfall of Swansboro (2:29), and Juan Perez (:36) of North Pitt. He received a forfeit win against Southwest Onslow.
Charlie Fitzpatrick scored three pins at 152. He pinned North Pitt’s Cameron Jones in 1:46; Swansboro’s Logan Aloof in :46 and New Bern’s Sage Carroll in 3:25.
The only thing standing between Orange and its 15 consecutive conference championship appears to be a dual match against Chapel Hill on January 26th in Hillsborough. The match starts at 6.