HCHS wrestlers gain revenge

Published 10:11 am Thursday, January 10, 2013

Ahoskie—Evenly matched.

That’s the best way to describe the blossoming conference high school wrestling rivalry between the Northeastern Eagles and Hertford County Bears.

The teams tied when they clashed in Elizabeth City on December 18. Northeastern won in the fifth criterion of the tiebreaker for winning more matches by pin.

“They simply dominated at the lighter weight classes, and we dominated the heavier ones,” Hertford County’s Head Coach Rich Halas said of the December show down. Before the match he added, “Something has to give tonight.”

On a night when the Bears were missing three starters due to illness or injury, a collective effort would be essential to keep victory within reach. It looked ugly for the Bears at the start when Northeastern rattled off wins in the first six matches of the night, including forfeits at the 126 and 138 weight classes.

Losing by pins and forfeits (six team points each) put the Bears down 30-0 until a loss by major decision from Hertford’s Chris Williams stopped the bleeding.

Williams fended off a pin, but Hertford County was still staring at a 34-0 deficit when team Captain Dylan Waterfield checked in at 152. The home crowd erupted as Waterfield pinned his opponent in just over a minute and the comeback was on.

Ray’Quan Horton won by a forfeit at 160. Halas trusted seniors Donarius Dunn and Grant Gatling to win their matches against bigger opponents. Both wrestled one weight class higher to fill spots at 170 and 182, and both won their matches by pin, making the score 34-24.

The gamble enabled the 170.4 lbs. Kendail Swain to collect a victory by forfeit at 195. Aaron Pruden did the same at 220 to give the Bears a two-point lead at 36-34 with just two matches remaining.

Without starting Heavyweight Brian in the lineup, HCHS needed a pin from sophomore Jalani Duck to put the match out of reach for the Eagles. Duck was quickly taken down by Northeastern’s heavyweight, to whom he conceded 20 pounds in bodyweight (high school heavyweights range from 220-285). With gravity against him, Duck failed to escape, but relented no other points in the first period.

Staring the second period on bottom again, Duck finally erupted from the mat to score an escape, executed an aggressive double leg takedown and put the match away with a second period pin.

Sophomore Dasan Joell put the icing on the cake for the Bears in the last match of the night at the 106-pound class. After losing to his Northeastern opponent in the second period in December, Joell put him straight to his back in the match’s opening seconds.

Despite his competitor’s best efforts to edge out of bounds, Joell maintained control and mat awareness, ending the match with a pin in one minute and ten seconds.

Joell’s grudge match was a microcosm for his team’s redemption. The squads will meet again at the team conference tournament in the Eagles’ gym on January 26. If the first two meetings were any indication, spectators are in for a treat.