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 Starmountâ€™s Josh Swaim :25 into the first round. In the quarterfinals, Hanks beat West Hendersonvilleâ€™s Casey Walker in a major decision 16-3. In the semi-finals, Hanks shut out Mitchellâ€™s Malachi Honeycutt 10-0.
In the finals, Hanks showed no signs of fatigue pinning Averyâ€™s Jonathan Hensley.
Knightsâ€™ head coach Chris Falasca was blown away by Hanksâ€™ performance.
â€œAwesome. He was really focused and didnâ€™t wrestle conservative. I think itâ€™s the best heâ€™s done in two years,â€ he said.
Licourt squeeked out his first round win 6-4 over Alleghanyâ€™s Heath Edwards. In the quarterfinals, Licourt major decisioned Robbinsvilleâ€™s Weston Haney 12-4.
In the semi-finals, Licourt was pinned by Mitchellâ€™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 Airyâ€™s Andrew Ballard getting injured.
â€œHe wrestled two really gutsy matches. Heâ€™s done an amazing job, they both did,â€ Falasca said.
While Hanks and Licourt were the only ones to qualify for the state tournament, they werenâ€™t the only ones to win a match.
Brian Gentry, at 119, won his opening match pinning Cherryvilleâ€™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 Techâ€™s Brian Parker. Mintun then pinned Surry Centralâ€™s Prestion Maines in the consolation quarterfinal. Then in the consolation semifinal Mintun lost a tough match 5-3 to Hayesvilleâ€™s Aaron Hawkens.
Falasca was proud of Mintunâ€™s effort, even though he didnâ€™t advance.
â€œJustin Iâ€™m really proud of. Both matches he came really close to reaching the stateâ€”within the last 10 seconds of the match. For Brian, itâ€™s disappointing for a senior to go out the way he did. He just had a tough tournament and ran into some tough kids,â€ 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.
â€œFinishing 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,â€ Falasca said of Hanks and Licourt.
by John Mark Brooks