Carpenter helps Carrboro take Bull Durham title

Dec. 14, 2013 @ 11:47 PM

George Carpenter is a defending state champion, has wrestled in top-flight national competition, and generally has his way with most opponents.

But for nearly a half minute Saturday, the Carrboro High School grappler was staring up at the lights in the Jordan gymnasium fighting desperately to avoid being pinned by his Person nemesis.

“He hit a nice low shot and I just got caught up weird, hit my hip wrong and he caught me on my back for a little while. I just knew I had to fight off,” Carpenter said of the deep trouble he found himself in during the second period of his 120-pound finals match against the Rockets Chase Gentry in the 13-team Bull Durham Holiday Classic.

With his shoulders perilously close to the Resilite, Carpenter wriggled free, caught Gentry’s leg in front of him and worked up for an escape. He reversed Gentry in the third round for the final 8-5 decision.

Carpenter had taken a 5-0 lead into the second period.

Carrboro took six wrestlers into the finals and came away with four championships and the team title. Northwood finished a close second, Person third, and host team Jordan fourth. All three of those teams took four wrestlers into the finals but managed only one champ each.

“Hats off to Carrboro. They did what they need to do in the spring, summer and fall,” said Jordan coach Phil Davanzo. “They were 10th here last year, and 11th the year before. You make those strides in the spring and the summer. You make those strides in the fall, and that’s where some teams fall short including us.”

At 126 pounds, Stephen Dreher, a state runner-up last year and the other half of Carrboro’s dynamite one-two punch, cruised past Liam King of Ravenscroft 15-3.

“I’m not sure if I’m going to be wrestling again after this, so this year is just about doing as much as I can, going as hard as I can, hopefully win that state championship, and it’s just about having fun and putting it all on the mat,” Dreher said.

“That’s going to be fun all year,” watching Carpenter and Dreher, Carrboro coach DeWitt Driscoll said. “Those two have worked so dang hard and they really push themselves and they push each other. They’re just going to get better as the year goes on.”

Driscoll was especially surprised by the performance of fill-in Hserti Ya at 113.

“He ended up in the finals and wrestled like a champ, especially for him. He’s Karen (a people who are refugees from Burma) and he’s a freshman, hardly can speak the language, but he’s learning,” Driscoll said. “He’s getting better, and he did a great job today. He made the finals. That was huge.”

Ya was pinned in the finals by Cole Collins of Leesville Road.

Driscoll said 285-pounder Magnus Herweyer also got a big win, edging Jordan’s Courtland Parker 2-1.

“In the Chapel Hill quad he got pinned by the kid, and it was a close match. Today the kid didn’t have a chance to hold him down. He made some adjustments and he won the match. It was smart wrestling,” Driscoll said.

Both heavyweights had an escape. The difference was a stalling penalty against Parker when he was riding on top but unable to bring a standing Herweyer back down to the mat.

Carrboro’s other champ was Carson McCay, a 10-4 winner at 182 over Jordan’s Kaleel Gainey. McCay twice drove Gainey to his back, once with a slick and powerful double-heel drop back against a standing Gainey that he rode straight into a tilt in the second period. The other back points came off McCay’s single leg takedown in the third period.

Rob Hamlet of Northwood took the title at 138 with a 10-0 major decision over Keegan Cordell of Carrboro. Hamlet went up 5-0 in the first period with a takedown and three back points. He scored an escape and a pair of single leg takedowns in the next two periods.

Person’s returning state qualifier Kenny Jay had perhaps the sweetest fall in the finals, at 132 against Felton Freeman of Seventy First. Jay nailed a single leg sweep shortly after the whistle to start the match.

“I just put him in a tilt. I was just looking to get backs (points). I wasn’t expecting a pin but it just happened,” Jay said. “That’s something I work on every day.”

His Rockets teammate, 152-pounder Gabe Snow, didn’t fare as well against Jordan’s Maliik Marcin.

Marcin used a punishing bar and half nelson to deck Snow in the second period.

Davanzo said the competition was stiff at the tournament.

“We try to get teams that are about even, we’re going to have competitive matches where nobody’s going to get blown out of the water,” Davanzo said.