Both the West Lincoln Rebels and the North Lincoln Knights suffered disappoint finishes to their team wrestling season.
The Rebels were knocked out in the third round of the 2A State Dual Team Tournament by Bandys, while the Knights were ousted by Surry Central in the first round of the 1A State Dual Team Tournament.
Heading into the Regionals this weekend, both teamsâ€™ coaches hope the sudden end to their team season will give them extra motivation.
â€œI hope they decide to step forward. It was kind of hard to get them up after that, but hopefully theyâ€™ll come back and do what theyâ€™re supposed to do,â€ Rebelsâ€™ head coach Butch Ross said.
â€œOh yeah, that was the talk today (Thurs.) Hopefully weâ€™ll have some guys place,â€ Knightsâ€™ head coach Chris Falasca said.
The Rebels will take 14 wrestlers into the regionals out of a possible 14 places. Ross believes his team has the potential to get over half to state.
â€œWe hope to qualify as many as we can. If we wrestle well, then weâ€™ll qualify a lot to go to the State Tournament,â€ he said.
One is a thriving wrestling powerhouse, one a program on the horizon, but both are hoping to get the bad taste out of their mouths from not achieving their team goals.
A solid performance by the Rebels in the individual action would help the teamâ€™s morale a lot according to Ross.
â€œThat would help a whole lot. After the disappointing loss in the duals, we would like to come back strong in the individuals and finish up the season on a real strong note,â€ he said.
Last season, North Lincoln only qualified four for the regionals. This season they qualified 11.
â€œWe took four last year. It shows the kind of year we had. Iâ€™m really happy weâ€™re taking that many, itâ€™s good for the school to be represented that way,â€ Falasca said.
North Lincoln has two wrestlers that garnered top five seeds: Derrick Hanks is a No. 2 at 103 pounds, while Aaron Licourt is No. 5 at 112. Brad Caldwell from Robbinsville is No. 1 in the 103 pound weight class.
West Lincoln has five wrestlers seeded in the top five: No. 4 John Harkey 103 pounds, No.3 Matt Avery 130 pounds, No. 3 Zeb Elmore 135 pounds, No. 4 152 Dustin Hester and No. 1 Antonio Rojo.
Rojo is widely considered the favorite to win the state title and is regarded the top heavyweight in the state in 2A competition.
Regardless of what happens at the regionals, Falasca is happy with what his team has accomplished.
â€œWeâ€™ve had a pretty good year and hopefully we can get as many as we can to Winston. Weâ€™re going to go in there and hopefully have a good time. Iâ€™m just really happy, they had a goal and weâ€™ve accomplished a lot of goals that we had, but more than anything Iâ€™m just pleased with how they represented the school,â€ he said.
He, like numerous coaches in the state, has tons of respect for Ross and the Rebels.
â€œTheyâ€™ve represented the county well. Theyâ€™ve demolished everybody and any coach would gladly take 34-1. It stinks they lost, but theyâ€™ll have a lot of guys place in the state,â€ Falasca said.
Ross believes itâ€™s a matter of desire and heart when you get this late in the season.
â€œThis is the time of year, the ones that really want it are going to step up and wrestle hard. The ones are kind of hurt, tired and worn out will not put out as much and theyâ€™ll come home.â€
The 2A Regionals will get underway at 5:30 p.m. at Newton-Conover High School. On Saturday, the action will begin at 9:30 a.m. Admission is $6 Friday night and $12 for both days.
The 1A Regionals will be held at Hendersonville High School. Their first round gets underway at 6 p.m. Friday and 8:45 a.m. Saturday morning.
Regional qualifiers for West Lincoln:
No. 11 Matt Whittle 112, No. 7 Zac Elmore 119, No. 6 Jeremy Pearson 125, No. 12 140 Logan Schronce, No. 11 145 James Pearson, No. 12 160 Daniel Scronce, No. 7 171 Daniel Soto, No. 9 189 Keane Steele, 215 No. 11 Thomas Smith.
Regional qualifiers for North Lincoln: No. 7 Brian Gentry 119 pounds, No. 15 Cody Innes 125 pounds, No. 8 Chad Saunders 130 pounds, No. 8 Brian Funk 145 pounds, No. 14 Jacob Smith 160 pounds, No. 14 Greg Fincham 171 pounds, No. 13 Scott Wallace 189 pounds, No. 12 Aaron Mintun 215 pounds and No. 9 Justin Mintun 275 pounds.
by John Mark Brooks