Mitchell bests Bears, wins state title
Chatham Central’s run through the NCHSAA 1A Dual Team State Tournament earned the Bears a shot for the state championship in its own gym, in front of a packed and absolutely raucous crowd Saturday evening.
Mitchell, with lots of Mountaineer fans making the long trip from the Tennessee border to Bear Creek — and then being equally deafening inside the Bears’ bandbox gym — won the state championship, winning eight of the 14 classes for a 36-30 final.
It was a heartbreaking end to the team tournament, which saw the Bears (19-5) win three matches, including a 40-30 win at Rosewood (32-2) in a semifinal Thursday. Nonetheless, said Bear head coach Freddie Little, earning the opportunity to wrestle for the team championship is a testament to how hard his team’s worked and it could still help them this season, which despite the tough defeat, is far from over.
“Life lessons, yeah, there were lessons tonight. Hopefully these guys learned some things tonight that will carry them through life,” Little said.
"This was something we wanted since the first day of the season,” he said. “We knew we had a team that could get this far and these kids worked for it. They worked their rear ends off all year.”
Rodney VanderWalker’s hard-fought, as there was no other type in the state final, victory over Mitchell’s Jacob Yelton at 152 pounds, a 6-3 win in which VanderWalker held on to a one-point edge through most of the last two periods, tied the dual at 24-24.
The Mountaineers rolled off three straight wins from there to clinch the championship.
At 160, Keagan Hoilman led Jared Matthewson 6-3 through two periods. After Matthewson scored a takedown and got a point for stalling, he was within 8-6 inside the last 0:45 but Pack held on for a 10-6 victory.
Mitchell’s Daniel Bomar gained a three-point near fall, nearly ending his match against Graham Jones late in the second period. Bomar went on to a 5-0 win putting the Mountaineers ahead 30-24.
Now needing any type of win to clinch, Tanner Buchanan, at 182 pounds, won with a sudden takedown and move to pin Devin Perrell with 0:21 left in the first period. Buchanan was named tournament MVP for the Mountaineers who won their first-ever dual team title.
Chatham Central was trying for its second state championship, the first being in 2005. The Bears gave their fans lots of reason to cheer, including once the state trophies were handed out and the mood was tough, yet congratulatory.
After a Mountaineer pin in the first match, at 220, heavyweight Casey Canterbury answered for the Bears. He turned his opponent and won with a pin with 0:52 left in the third period making the match 6-6.
At 106, Nick Daggett seized the energy and needed only 0:23 to win via a pin suddenly putting the Bears in the lead.
Mitchell won the next three classes, including a sudden victory win at 120. Chatham Central’s Bradley Harms led 3-0 after two periods and 3-1 until Peyton Greene scored a takedown with 0:04 remaining to force extra time.
The Bear coaches though Harms had two points to win in the extra period before Greene scored a takedown a few seconds later.
Chatham Central came through with three wins in four classes, tying the match twice.
James Daggett made seven takedowns and won his 132-pound match 16-5. Chris Jaeger followed the same point-scoring plan at 138 and got a technical fall, winning 24-9.
The Mountaineers’ Josh McGee defeated Dalton Robinson 1-0 at 145, getting an escape with 1:27 left in the third period. VanderWalker’s 6-3 win made it 24-24.
Little knew his Bears were in for a tough task against Mitchell (37-7).
“We were looking forward to it. We had wanted to wrestle (Mitchell) all year. In all the rankings, we saw they were number one and we weren’t ever mentioned,” he said.
“This tells us we can work even harder,” he said, “because you want to take advantage of opportunities like this and they don’t happen often. Tonight, we took advantage of some opportunities and we let others go by.”
“Mitchell’s a great program. We knew that and hats off to them,” he said.
The postseason continues so, as Little said, there’s practice on Monday. The 1A East Regional Championships are set for Friday and Saturday at Rosewood and the state championships will be Feb. 20-22 at the Greensboro Coliseum.
NCHSAA 1A Dual Team State Tournament
Mitchell 36, Chatham Central 30
220 - Tucker McElrath (M) p. Curtis Brown 1:03, 285 - Casey Canterbury (C) p. Todd Self 5:08, 106 - Nick Daggett (C) p. Malachi Staton 0:23, 113 - Kyler Hoilman (M) p. Cameron Oldham 4:49, 120 - Peyton Greene (M) sv. Bradley Harms 5-3, 126 - Levi Richardson (M) p. Rogelio Amador 0:20, 132 - James Daggett (C) md. Christian Mallatere 16-5, 138 - Chris Jaeger (C) tf. Devin Rowe 24-9, 145 - Josh McGee (M) d. Dalton Robinson 1-0, 152 - Rodney VanderWalker (C) d. Jacob Yelton 6-3, 160 - Keagan Hoilman (M) d. Jared Matthewson 10-6, 170 - Daniel Bomar (M) d. Graham Jones 5-0, 182 - Tanner Buchanan (M) p. Devin Perrell 1:39, 195 - Luis Puente (C) p. Will Atkins 3:02