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LEXINGTON, N.C. –– Carroll County had three wrestlers finish among the top 10 in their individual weight classes at the King of the Mat Invitational, hosted by North Davidson High School on Dec. 21-22.
Heavyweight Drew McCraw brought home a third-place finish, 130-pounder Blake Bowman placed fourth and Aaron Willard gritted his way to a ninth-place finish in the tournament, which included 37 teams from as far away as Wisconsin, Florida, Alabama and Georgia.
McCraw opened the tournament with a pin of Joseph Chavel of Charlotte (N.C.) Northside Christian and a 5-0 decision of Raquan Edwards of Winston-Salem (N.C.) Parkland before losing a heartbreaker in the championship semifinals. McCraw and Brock Durfee of Catawba (N.C.) Bandys High School went to three overtimes before Durfee came away with a 3-2 win.
A senior with more than 100 wins under his belt, McCraw wrestled back though the consolation bracket with a 1-0 defeat of Terance Cartrette of Fayetteville (N.C.) Douglas Byrd, and took third place by default over Collin Foster of Mooresville (N.C.) Lake Norman High.
In the 130-pound bracket, Bowman finished the tournament with a 3-2 record and a fourth-place showing. Bowman, a sophomore, decisioned Davante Andujar of Concord (N.C.) Jay M. Robinson High, 7-3, and nipped Martinsville’s Taylor Johnson 2-1 in three overtimes in the championship quarterfinals.
Wrestling for a spot in the championship match, Bowman dropped a 1-0 decision to Aaron Plyler of Salisbury (N.C.) East Rowan. Facing Andujar once again in the consolation semifinals, Bowman took an 8-3 win before falling to Chris Rivas of Parkland, 4-3, in the third-place match.
Nobody for Carroll County put in as much work as did Willard, who toed the line nine times in two days to pick up a ninth-place finish in the 160-pound class. Having won three of his first four matches, Willard was knocked out of contention for a top finish with a 4-3 loss to Mitch Hanson of DeForest (Wisc.) High. Willard then got on a roll with a 58-second pin of Anthony Gonderman of Lumberton (N.C.), followed by wins over Ricky Bell of Douglas Byrd, 5-2, Chris Wellborn of Bandys, 9-6, and Timmy Dunn of Clemmons (N.C.) West Forsyth, 3-1 for ninth place.
Jesse Pedrero did not place despite winning four matches in the 125-pound class. Other multiple winners for Carroll County included Jared Cox (2-3 at 119 pounds), Jared Hooper (2-3 at 140), and Kelly Yelton (2-3 at 171).
Carroll County tied for 21st in the team standings with Eden (N.C.) Morehead High. Parkland picked up four individual championships in winning the team title.
Carroll County Invitational
The Cavaliers hosted their own Carroll County Invitational on Dec. 13, bringing home a runner-up finish in the team standings in the 10-team event.
Stone Bridge, a Group AAA school from Ashburn, was the team champion with 190.5 points, winning two individual titles to go with four runner-up finishes. Carroll County had three champions and three runner-up finishers to accumulate 138.5 team points.
McCraw won his 100th career match in a preliminary bout with Conner Calderwood of Stone Bridge and defeated Mike Garland of Graham for the 275-pound title. Bowman topped Jonathan Faul of Stone Bridge for the 130-pound title and Pedrero defeated Tazewell’s Cody Wilson for the 125-pound championship.
Runners-up for the Cavaliers were Jared Cox (119), Jared Hooper (145) and Willard (160).
Grayson County placed third in the team standings with 118 points, getting runner-up finishes from Jessica Lowe (103), Richard Pugh (135) and Michael Chase (152).
Galax placed sixth as a team, with Ethan Campbell (112) and Jose Martinez (140) earning individual championships.
Local wrestlers finishing third were Shane Williams (103), Cody McGuire (130), Nathan McFarland (140) and Stephen Ross (171) of Grayson County, Dante Ravenell (119) of Galax and Johnny Thomas (152) of Carroll County.
Fourth-place finishers from the Twin Counties were Logan Watson (125) and Jamie Oliver (140) of Grayson, Jose Rojas (130) and Seth Criner (160) of Galax and Carroll County’s Mickey Quesenberry (215).