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MAIDEN The two wrestling teams that dominated the South Fork 2A conference in dual meet competition during the regular season did so again in a tournament format Saturday.

Regular season champion West Lincoln added the tournament title to its trophy case by outpacing second place Newton Conover in the event held at Maiden.

West Lincoln outscored the Red Devils 234.5 to 197.5, while North Lincoln finished a distant third at 103.5 points. Rounding out the field were Lincolnton (98), East Lincoln (76.5), Maiden (62) and Bandys (60).

The Rebels and Red Devils were clearly the class of the league as they had at least one wrestler in 13 of the 14 bouts. All 14 wrestlers for the Rebels finished in the top four, with 10 of those advancing to the championship round. Newton Conover placed 12 in the top four, moving eight of those into the finals. Of the 14 championship round matches, West Lincoln and Newton Conover faced each other in five of them.

The two schools each took home four individual championships. North Lincoln and Lincolnton took two titles apiece, with Maiden and Bandys each claiming one.

It was an afternoon in which the top seeds dominated as 11 No. 1 seeds won championships. Taking the top stand of the medal platform for West Lincoln were top seeded wrestlers Xander Pendergrass (132 pounds), Keaton Norman (138), and Nathan Hull (152), all of whom won by pin. Canon Bridges (160) bucked the trend as the second seeded wrestler pinned No. 1 Spencer Brackett of Newton Conover.

Coach Butch Ross, named the conference’s wrestling coach of the year, was particularly pleased at how his wrestlers have progressed during the season.

“They’ve stepped up and they’ve improved a lot,” Ross said. “They’ve worked hard and all I can say is every kid on that team scored a point today. It was a whole team effort. Every one of them were wrestling at the end.”

The Red Devils got championships from Mitch Glover (106), Spenser Harris (120), Josh Nichols (170) and Barrett Harkins (195), all of who were top seeds. Nichols got the only Red Devils pin, a first period tap over Hayden Thomas.

Like Ross, Red Devils coach Eddy Clark was also happy with the improvement of what he said is a young squad.

“I’m pleased with our team,” Clark said. “We wrestled well today, I thought. We beat the folks we should’ve beat.”

Harris, who went 6 0 in his weight class in the conference and got two pins on the way to the 120 pound title, was named the conference wrestler of the year.

“His season has been awesome,” Clark said. “Spenser’s whole career has been a testament of dedication and time and the hard work that it takes. It’s nice to see somebody that has invested so much get something back out of it.”

North Lincoln took home two titles with No. 2 seed Andrew Holden (120) taking an 8 3 decision and Si Hilton (182) ringing up a pin.

The upset of the day was by Lincolnton’s Cameron Smith at 113 pounds. The fourth seeded wrestler upset No. 1 Dylan Quilla of North Lincoln in round two and then pinned West Lincoln’s Luke Stewart in the finals. The Wolves got a championship in the final bout of the day when Johnny Araya (285) pinned West Lincoln’s Brock Steele.

Maiden’s lone title winner was Ethan Parsons (220), who survived a 3 2 decision against East Lincoln’s Grayson Cannon. Colby Teague (145) collected Bandys’ only first place win with a 15 4 victory over the Rebels’ Josh Durun.

West Lincoln and Newton Conover will compete in the state dual meet playoffs beginning on Tuesday at a location and time to be announced Monday afternoon.
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