Despite a laundry list of state and national titles, there was one championship that had eluded the McDowell Titans’ Toney McGee – until last weekend, that is.
McGee, an undefeated, 126-pound senior, steamrolled through the field to win his first West 4A Regional championship at Hough High School in Cornelius Saturday.
McGee won a state championship his sophomore season and was state runner-up last year, but he was defeated in the West Regional finals both times.
The school’s all-time wins leader, McGee will try for his unprecedented second state championship and the school’s fourth this Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Greensboro Coliseum. He’ll be joined by junior 120-pounder Alldyn Conley, who finished in third place in his weight class.
Four other Titans, Calvin Stevenson (106 pounds), Toby Finn (113), Channing Watson (145) and Jacob Phillips (152) each missed qualifying for the states by one match. Phillips was trying to join McGee in becoming the Titans’ fifth three-time state qualifier, but the senior fell just short in a brutal 152-pound class that may have been the region’s toughest.
McGee (54-0) had little trouble advancing. After a first-round bye, he pinned South Meck’s Cade Watrous in the second round. In the semifinals, McGee scored an 18-3 technical fall over Mooresville’s Jacob Linker. McGee, the top seed, faced second-seeded Jonah Muhammed of East Meck in the finals, and pinned him in the second period.
“Toney had a pretty easy tournament,” said McDowell head coach Tim Hutchins. “He wrestled good kids, but he was just dominant.”
Conley had a somewhat rockier road. After a first-round bye, Conley, the second seed, pulled out a hard-fought, 12-11 win over Hopewell’s Terrell Washington in the quarterfinals. In the semis, Conley fell 10-1 to eventual champion Corbin Houdeshell of Lake Norman.
That loss bumped Conley (32-13) to the consolation bracket, where he pinned Ardrey Kell’s Daniel Trainor in the second period to earn a spot in the consolation finals. There, he met Washington again. The Hopewell grappler obviously didn’t take his previous loss to Conley well, and when Conley took the lead in the second bout, Washington’s physical tactics earned him a disqualification. The match went down as a 9-8 win for Conley.
“Alldyn handled it really well,” said Hutchins, who added the Titan wrestler sported a black eye after the match. “I’m real proud of him. The one that reacts in that situation is usually the one who gets in trouble, but he did a great job not getting involved in that.”
Finn (28-15), Watson (32-13) and Phillips (38-13) each went 3-2 in the tournament, and each lost in the consolation semifinals. Stevenson (28-21) went 1-2 in the tournament, also falling in the consolation semis. All four bouts were close: Finn fell 4-0, Stevenson 4-2, Watson 13-9 and Phillips 6-3.
Four more McDowell wrestlers won two matches each in the tournament. Connor Good (160, 34-21), Aaron Buchanan (170, 33-23), Josh Morgan (182, 30-21) and Joe Hullette (220, 16-25) each went 2-2 in the regional.
Daniel Maynor (138, 30-23) won one match. Dante Quitman (132, 29-23) and Aamon Haynes (195, 17-30) both went 0-2. Heavyweight Aaron Duncan, who elected not to wrestle in the regional, finished 28-20.
As a team, the Titans finished sixth in the 18-team field with 93.5 points. Mooresville (209.5) won the regional.
The Northwestern 3A/4A conference fared well, with a total of 23 state qualifiers in 3A and 4A. Conference champions St. Stephens qualified seven wrestlers and won three regional championships.
Weigh-ins for the 4A ranks begin at 4:30 Thursday. The first round begins at 6. Wrestling starts at 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday. The parade of champions and championship finals are set for 4:30 Saturday.