3/2/2023 5:06:00 PM NWHS wrestlers keep momentum going
After winning the dual-team state wrestling championship on Feb. 4, NWHS wrestlers celebrate teammate's state championship and five other teammates placing in top 6 on Feb. 18
by PATTI STOKES
Combine hard work, preparation, conditioning, discipline, commitment to a long season - and momentum, lots of momentum - and you've got the makings for a state championship.
Northwest High School head wrestling coach Ron Bare and his team should know - they just experienced the thrill of a state championship on Feb. 4. For Bare, it was the second time in four years. For his wrestlers, who came within two points of claiming the state championship last year, it was doubly thrilling.
Winning the conference championship after being undefeated during the regular season certainly provided some momentum, but from there, the Vikings had to win four more matches before competing in the state finals.
"The first couple of matches, we benefited from being the No. 1 seed," Bare said.
On Jan. 28, his wrestlers defeated Olympic 65-18 in Round 1, then defeated Watauga 51-27 in Round 2. Then on Feb. 1, they defeated Mooresville 30-27 in Round 3.
Reluctant to focus too much on any individual wrestler, Bare did give a shout-out to 220-pound wrestler Trey Tuggle.
"He was ranked 33rd in the state and beat the No. 1-seeded kid (in the match against Mooresville)," Bare said. "No matter how we looked at it, we couldn't have expected that - especially in that situation."
The Vikings went on to defeat Piedmont 35-28 in Round 4, before heading to the final match on Feb. 4.
Looking at the final 52-24 score, defeating Laney for the state championship appears to have been easy.
It wasn't, Bare said, while acknowledging that many of his wrestlers having had the experience of walking into the arena for a state championship match last year certainly helped.
"You can't duplicate that experience during the season," he said. "Even though we lost last year, we knew what to expect ... they (our wrestlers) knew how tough it is."
Twenty-two of the team's 38 wrestlers weighed in for the state finals, with 14 ultimately competing. Nick Byrd got things off to a great start with a pin in 55 seconds.
"He got the momentum going against a kid who could win either way," Bare said. "In that type of match, he was very aggressive. We're really proud of him - he's a guy who hadn't had as much success as some of the other wrestlers, but did his job really well."
After Byrd's leadoff win, his teammates carried the momentum forward all the way to their decisive win.
"Even though we went 34-0 for the season, we had a lot of ups and downs," Bare noted. "The kids really have to rely on their teammates to be successful. We had a really great team effort. They set their goal last year and did everything I asked them to do, in-season and off-season."
The final match against Laney on Feb. 4: 285 lbs. - Nick Byrd (NWHS) over Michael Williams (Laney) by fall (0:55) (NWHS leads 6-0)
106 lbs. - Kyle Pruden (NWHS) over Ayden Arrington (Laney) by fall (0:32) (NWHS leads 12-0)
113 lbs. - Tristen Lawrence (NWHS) over Kingston Neal (Laney) by major decision (MD 10-1) (NWHS leads 16-0)
120 lbs. - Eli Pendergrass (NWHS) over Samuel McQueen (Laney) by fall (1:43) (NWHS leads 22-0)
126 lbs. - Jackson Gibson (NWHS) over Robert Tann (Laney) by fall (0:38) (NWHS leads 28-0)
132 lbs. - Dylan Pepin (NWHS) over Tyler Buonocore (Laney) by fall (2:33) (NWHS leads 34-0)
138 lbs. - Avery Buonocore (Laney) over Andrew Harger (NWHS) by fall (1:29) (NWHS leads 34-6)
145 lbs. - Noah Thomas (Laney) over Will Gibson (NWHS) by decision (Dec 4-1) (NWHS leads 34-9)
152 lbs. - Dylan Attridge (NWHS) over Jacob Rosen (Laney) by fall (3:17) (NWHS leads 40-9)
160 lbs. - Drew Pepin (NWHS) over Marquise Kelly (Laney) by fall (0:31) (NWHS leads 46-9)
170 lbs. - Tristan Cotto (Laney) over Cole Vermilyea (NWHS) by decision (Dec 3-1) (NWHS leads 46-12)
182 lbs. - Alex Hopper (Laney) over Alex Rodriguez (NWHS) by fall (1:36) (NWHS leads 46-18)
195 lbs. - Trystan Richardson (Laney) over Derik Mirts (NWHS) by fall (5:11) (NWHS leads 46-24)
220 lbs. - Trey Tuggle (NWHS) over Sa'ir Folks (Laney) by fall (1:26) (NWHS finishes 52-24)
Individual state wrestling finals on Feb. 4:
In the individual state wrestling finals on Feb. 18, senior Drew Pepin, 160 pounds, was a 1st place state champion. This was Drew's second individual state championship.
The following Northwest wrestlers placed in the individual state finals:
Kyle Pruden, 106 pounds, placed 5th; Eli Pendergrass, 120 pounds, placed 2nd (after placing 4th last year); Dylan Pepin, 132 pounds, placed 5th; William Gibson, 138 pounds, placed 3rd; and Dylan Attridge, 152 lbs, placed 6th.