PITTSBORO — Seaforth’s Harrison Compton seized the magnitude of the moment. The Mid-Carolina 1A/2A regular season wrestling title was on the line in a familiar battle of foes with unblemished conference records last Thursday, Jan. 19.
Bartlett Yancey grabbed the initial lead with an opening bout pin at 182, so the Hawks’ freshman 195-pounder felt compelled to mash the momentum.
“I felt some pressure to win. It was an intense moment. I set the tone,” Compton said after he clamped the Buccaneers’ Na’zear Isley in a mere 50 seconds to tie the score 6-6. He had a one-track mind stepping onto the home mat: “If we start crushing them at the beginning, we can get the rest of the team on a roll. We started getting win after win after that. Everybody had this positive energy and winning spirit.”
The Hawks won seven of the next 12 matches, including five bouts with bonus point wins and two forfeits, to prevail 46-36 despite a strong Bartlett Yancey comeback threat late in the match.
The teams finished in the same 1-2 order for the conference title last year. It’s a phenomenal repeat because Seaforth has been in existence just two years. They have only two juniors. The rest of the team is made up of freshmen and sophomores. Bartlett Yancey, meanwhile, is a seasoned team with a host of veterans who have qualified for past state tournaments.
Seaforth coach Ryan Armstrong said the championship required some of his wrestlers juggling weight classes for a competitive advantage.
“We had to play the chess game,” he said. “We got the matchups we needed, and we wrestled matches that we didn’t need.”
Armstrong said the Hawks’ impressive growth is welcome, but somewhat unexpected.
“We’re a year ahead of where we thought we were going to be,” he said. “Our goals are set high this year. We’ve got a plan.”
The boys and girls on the team are all putting in hard work, some six days a week. He’s proud they are excelling in the classroom and the wrestling room.
But Bartlett Yancey didn’t go out with a whimper. After falling behind 42-12 at 132 pounds, the Bucs stormed back with a forfeit win and two falls. That narrowed the gap to 42-30 with two matches remaining and a possible tie hanging in the balance.
Armstrong didn’t get rattled. He knew if the final score was knotted, tiebreaker criteria would favor Seaforth for the win because Bartlett Yancy forfeited at two weights and Seaforth only gave up one forfeit.
“We knew what we had at 160,” Armstrong said. With Judge Lloyd, who is having a strong year, and coach said he felt good about Alex Hinchman’s chances at 170, even though he was going up against a state qualifier, Armstrong said. Lloyd picked up a 10-2 major decision against Justin Shumaker on the strength of a takedown, a pair of reversals, an escape and 3-point tilt. But Hinchman fell by fall to Jakoby Casselman to end the bout 46-36.
The match got off to a rocky start for the Hawks at 182. Davonta Warren, a 2022 state qualifier for Bartlett Yancey, hit a headlock to show the lights to Cole Seder in just 33 seconds.
That’s when Compton had a breakout moment at 195. Having struggled the past few weeks on his feet, he hit a fireman’s carry to get a takedown.
“I saw he was letting me get the inside grip, so I was able to secure the arm, grab his leg and just roll him over, and from there it was pretty easy. I just put a lot of weight on him” for the pin, Compton said.
Buccaneer Jayelan Warren got the momentum swinging back toward the visitors with a pin at 220 over Cole Ballard and a 12-6 team lead. It was the last time Bartlett Yancey would be in front.
At 285, Palmer Moade wasted little time squeezing on a front headlock and bulldozing Bartlett Yancey’s Jacob Walker backward, working into a near-side cradle for a 5-0 lead. Walker escaped, but Moade stuffed Walker’s ensuing leg shot and spun behind for a 7-1 lead. Starting on top in the second period, the Hawk showed why teammates have designated him “Beast Moade.” He flipped Walker to his back, criss-crossed his opponent’s arms across his chest, and flattened him with a body press for a fall to even the score at 12-12.
Seaforth’s Jordan Miller got a forfeit at 106 and Gabe Rogers decked Buccaneer Kaden Schnell with a half nelson after building a 10-1 lead at 113. The Bucs evaded standout Josh Miller at 120, choosing to forfeit, and Hawks 126 pounder Layne Armstrong followed by sticking Cole Russell with a first period reverse half and underhook for a 36-12 lead.
At 132 Seaforth’s Chance Cody compiled a commanding 15-5 lead featuring six takedowns against Cameron Stokes before decking him with a reverse half in the waning seconds of the bout. That put Seaforth in front 42-12 before hitting some brick Walls — brothers Dallas at 138 and Dakota at 145, both returning state qualifiers for Bartlett Yancey.
Dallas Wall slapped a far side cradle on Lockard Bowen for a first period fall and Dakota Wall received a forfeit. Jeremiah Johnson then pinned Seaforth’s Keira Rosenmarkle with a first period headlock to narrow the score to 42-30, setting the final stage for Lloyd and Hinchman.