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Knights duo reaches 1A State tournament

North Lincoln Knights sophomores Derrick Hanks and Aaron Licourt are proving that good things come in small packages. Hanks (103 pounds) and Licourt (112) have advanced to the 1A State Individual Tournament to be held in Winston-Salem next weekend.
Hanks pinned Starmount’s Josh Swaim :25 into the first round. In the quarterfinals, Hanks beat West Hendersonville’s Casey Walker in a major decision 16-3. In the semi-finals, Hanks shut out Mitchell’s Malachi Honeycutt 10-0.
In the finals, Hanks showed no signs of fatigue pinning Avery’s Jonathan Hensley.
Knights’ head coach Chris Falasca was blown away by Hanks’ performance.
“Awesome. He was really focused and didn’t wrestle conservative. I think it’s the best he’s done in two years,” he said.
Licourt squeeked out his first round win 6-4 over Alleghany’s Heath Edwards. In the quarterfinals, Licourt major decisioned Robbinsville’s Weston Haney 12-4.
In the semi-finals, Licourt was pinned by Mitchell’s Paul McGee sending him into the consolation bracket. In the consolation semi-final, Licourt inked out a 7-6 victory over Wesley Whitaker from East Surry.
Licourt won the finals due to Mount Airy’s Andrew Ballard getting injured.
“He wrestled two really gutsy matches. He’s done an amazing job, they both did,” Falasca said.
While Hanks and Licourt were the only ones to qualify for the state tournament, they weren’t the only ones to win a match.
Brian Gentry, at 119, won his opening match pinning Cherryville’s Fernando Montdragon 2:35 before losing consecutive matches. Justin Mintun, at 275, pinned Matt Goodson, from Swain, in the opening round.
Mintun was decisoned 7-4 in the quarterfinals by Highland Tech’s Brian Parker. Mintun then pinned Surry Central’s Prestion Maines in the consolation quarterfinal. Then in the consolation semifinal Mintun lost a tough match 5-3 to Hayesville’s Aaron Hawkens.
Falasca was proud of Mintun’s effort, even though he didn’t advance.
“Justin I’m really proud of. Both matches he came really close to reaching the state—within the last 10 seconds of the match. For Brian, it’s disappointing for a senior to go out the way he did. He just had a tough tournament and ran into some tough kids,” he said.
For the Knights, as a team, it was a very successful season. Last season they had no wrestlers in the state tournament, this year they will have two.
“Finishing ninth in the region was pretty good. Last year, we had none reach state, this year we have two and a regional champ. The good news is both are back next year,” Falasca said of Hanks and Licourt.

by John Mark Brooks

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