Prep Wrestling: Thomasville wins 2-A state championship by half a point
Richard Herman believes a certain sign on Bulldog Drive at Thomasville High School could use a little makeover.
After the feat Thomasville's wrestling team pulled off over the weekend, the head coach shouldn't have a problem getting approval.
In a stunning result at the Greensboro Coliseum Saturday, the Bulldogs edged Croatan 95.5 to 95 to win the first individual state title since J.C. Young's team won the championship in 1991.
“What a day for Thomasville High School,” said a jubilant Herman. “We are going to slap that sign up right with that football sign on Bulldog Drive. Today, the Bulldogs are on top by half a point!”
With a state title within reach, THS sent its final two wrestlers to the mat as they sought individual state titles as well.
Sophomore Ray-Shun Moore (55-5) took the mat against Trinity's Tyler Johnson in the 106-pound class. Johnson had gotten the better of Moore in two earlier meetings, but Moore was determined to exact revenge.
He shot out to an 8-1 lead, scoring on two takedowns and two reversals. But with 1:13 to go second period, Johnson roared back into contention. He nearly had Moore pinned, but settled for a score of 9-6 with a period left.
An escape made it 9-7, before Johnson again took Moore to the mat to tie it. Responding like a champion, Moore reversed the situation to score two points and lead 11-9.
“He stuck me a couple of times but I just kept working,” said Moore. “I was just thinking about winning.”
Johnson was able to escape for a single point, but could not get his opponent back into a scoring position. The final seconds ticked away and Moore had himself a championship to celebrate.
“He had beaten me twice, but I just came harder this time and I got it,” Moore said. “I have worked hard all season and I just came out here and did it.”
Herman was ecstatic with the result and what the future holds for his smallest grappler.
“He wrestled his tail off. He made a mistake and battled out of that. He is just a great kid and we are looking forward to coaching him two more years.”
The win left Thomasville ahead in the team score by a 95.5 to 91 count with one match remaining. In a rare occurrence, the championship would be decided in the final match with both Croatan and Thomasville facing each other at 113.
It was going to be a tall order for Bulldog wrestler Hiygee Martin. Croatan's Grant Hall had pinned every man he faced in the tournament, and another pin would give his team the title by 1.5 points. Even a major decision would be enough to win by half a point.
So Martin knew exactly what he had to do.
Through two periods he was doing his part. Though never able to score in the match, Martin only surrendered two points on a reversal. He was in a bit of trouble down on the mat with 37 seconds left, and was starting to realize an individual team title was likely out of the picture. That is when he went into team player mode. He held his position, avoiding a pin to just barely earn the Bulldogs a team title.
“When he came off the mat he said, 'team, team, team,'” Herman said. “He knew what he had to do.”
Though disappointed in failing to reach his goal of an individual title, Martin was all smiles with what he had accomplished this season.
“Last year I did not place and this year I got second,” he said. “I just have to keep working hard. Next year we are going to come back and win it again.”
Herman could not hide his emotions afterward. With his voice cracking and tears building in his eyes, he took a moment to look around the Coliseum to point out all the people that helped make it possible.
“We cannot do this without Bobby House, David House, Doug House, Warren Dumas and Shabazz Butt,” he said, mentioning every member of his coaching staff. “This is the tightest little family and nobody gave us a shot coming in here. To pull this off is just miraculous. Now we are the hunted but I like that side.”
Thomasville entered the final day down 69 to 65.5. A strong showing in the consolation rounds built the foundation for the last two matches.
Evan Makupson racked up key points at 160, earning a podium finish with a third place effort. Keith Clemmons was able to finish fourth in the 220 classification, while Jason Boutsady (120) and Ahsan Butt (126) brought home fifth-place finishes.
Sports Editor Zach Kepley can be reached at 888-3631, or firstname.lastname@example.org.