The McDowell Titan wrestling team has spent the early part of the season serving notice that it’s a force to reckoned with, and that continued last weekend at the North Henderson Knight Invitational.
The Titans, who are unbeaten in dual matches, wrestled to a solid, third-place finish in the prestigious tournament. McDowell (196) placed behind only champion Science Hill (TN), who scored a whopping 325 points, and second-place North Henderson (258).
William Blunt (TN) and Mitchell rounded out the top five in the 15-team field that included teams from South Carolina as well.
Titan senior Toney McGee was named Most Outstanding Wrestler in the lightweight divisions after capturing the 126-pound title. McGee was one of nine McDowell placers.
“Overall, I was very pleased with our performance,” said Titans head coach Tim Hutchins. “We lost a few we shouldn’t have, but that’s always going to be the case when you wrestle in a big tournament like this.”
The tournament began with each weight class wrestling in pool competition and then advancing to a bracketed tournament.
McGee won by pinfall in both his pool matches. He pinned Brevard’s Tripp Harris in the semifinals, and then claimed an 18-5 major decision over Mitchell’s Coltin Marlowe in the finals. It was McGee’s second tourney championship and second MOW award in the last week.
Josh Morgan (182 pounds) worked his way into the championship bout as well, taking a 12-4 major decision over Science Hill’s Will Mooney in the semifinals. Dawson Satterfield of Blount pinned Morgan in the championship bout.
Morgan was the Titans’ only second-place finisher, but four MHS wrestlers placed third in their respective weight classes.
Alldyn Conley (120) placed third, taking a 6-3 decision over Swain’s Nate Brock in the consolation finals. Channing Watson (145) beat Blount’s Joshua Hughes 7-4 for third place as well. Connor Good (160) also took third, pinning Isaiah Ryans of Science Hill in the consolation finals. Aaron Duncan (285) placed third by virtue of an 8-6 decision over Swansea (SC) grappler Kyresse Williams.
Calvin Stevenson (106), Jacob Phillips (152) and Aaron Buchanan (170) all came up short in the consolation finals and consequently placed fourth.
Despite McDowell’s solid finish, the Titans still wrestled shorthanded. Tobey Finn, despite his best efforts, hasn’t made 113 pounds yet, so McDowell had no entry. Tice Edwards (182) suffered an injury in his second match and couldn’t continue.
Hutchins said his team did a good job pinning its opponents to score more points for the team.
“It’s not that we win all our individual matches, it’s that this team is really putting out the pins,” said the 23rd-year head coach. “I’ve always preached to my guys and worked a lot on pinning people. It’s of course what put the most points on the board, and I’ve always told them the quicker you get the match over, the more energy you’re saving for the next match.
“Also, a pin leaves no chance of a late comeback from your opponent or a mistake on your part that gets you pinned. The guys have bought into it and are consistently looking to finish the match.”
North Henderson’s Morgan King, the 152-pound champ, was named MOW for the upper weights. Science captured championships in seven of the 14 weight classes. “Best team I’ve seen in years,” said Hutchins of Science Hill. The host team won three titles, Madison two and the Titans and Blount one apiece.
In addition to the Titans’ success in the varsity tournament, team member Malcolm Wallace captured a 13-2 win in the junior varsity tournament. “We were all very proud of him,” said Hutchins.
McDowell is back in action tonight (Tuesday) on the road for a quad at West Henderson, along with Brevard and Owen (5 p.m.).