Two McDowell Titan wrestlers are headed to the State 4A Individual Championships in their respective weight classes this weekend at the Greensboro Coliseum.
Sophomore 126-pounder Toby Finn placed second at the West 4A Regional Tournament last weekend in Mooresville, while teammate Josh Morgan, a senior 170-pounder, took fourth place in his weight class.
Another Titan, 132-pound senior Alldyn Conley, came up one win short of becoming a state qualifier for the second season in a row.
In all, eight Titans won at least one match and McDowell finished a respectable ninth in the 20-team field, putting up 70 team points. Mooresville (215.5), Lake Norman (182.5) and Hough (176.5) were the top three team finishers.
Titans head coach Justin Snethen said he was proud of the team’s performance.
“Josh has battled all year with a shoulder injury and to still qualify speaks volumes about him,” said the first-year head coach. “Tobias has worked to be the best in the state and it shows. His hardworking attitude has gotten him a chance at a state championship.”
Finn (40-11), despite battling sickness, had a stellar tournament, staying in the winner’s bracket from the start and advancing to the finals. In the first round, Finn pinned Haley Shipes of West Meck in the first period.
In the quarterfinals, Finn dominated South Meck’s Andrew Gillian. Up 10-0 in the third period, Finn took Gillian down and pinned him with 58 seconds remaining in the match to advance to the semifinals.
There, Finn met Wesley Chappell of Mallard Creek. Finn made a first-period takedown and a second-period reversal stand up in a tight, 4-1 victory that put him in the finals.
Finn faced Hough’s Sam Westmoreland in what turned out to be an epic struggle. Finn scored a pair of takedowns in the second period and forged a 5-4 lead. But Westmoreland, on bottom to begin the third period, escaped and took Finn down to take the lead. The Titan grappler managed an escape with just four seconds left, but came up one point short in a 7-6 loss.
Morgan (27-14) took a more circuitous route to the state championships.
The senior started with a dominating 14-6 win over Providence’s David Satterfield. The win propelled Morgan into the quarterfinals against Harding’s Zaire Bell. Morgan took Bell down quickly and pinned him in the first period.
In the semifinals, Morgan and Hough’s Anthony Fabian wrestled a competitive bout, with Fabian taking a 7-5 win. Morgan took Fabian down in both the first and second periods and led 5-4 heading into the third. Fabian escaped from the bottom to tie the score, and then scored a takedown with 35 seconds left to claim the 7-5 decision.
The loss bumped Morgan into the consolation semifinals. There, he pinned East Meck’s Christian Reddish in the third period to make the consolation finals.
Morgan, nursing a season’s worth of troublesome injuries including a bothersome shoulder issue, and having already qualified for states, wisely shut it down and forfeited to Olympic’s Murad Nabiev in the finals to finish fourth. Mooresville’s Dilyn Roudesbush went on to defeat Fabian 8-4 in the championship bout.
“We had talked about it, and we figured it was better to shut him down than to continue,” said Snethen. “If he had made it to the finals, I would have let him wrestle, but we needed to protect the shoulder.”
Conley (23-17), also suffering from the effects of a lingering sickness, opened the tournament with a first-period pin of Berry Academy’s Kristopher Miller. But Hough’s Nick Pepe scored a 9-1 decision in the quarterfinals to push Conley into the loser’s bracket.
He nearly fought his way out of it. Conley dominated Ardrey Kell’s Jack Riley before pinning him in the second period to advance to the consolation quarterfinals. There, Conley scored another second-period pin, this one over Olympic’s Dequorian Merchant.
But Conley ran out of gas against Providence’s Jordan Cave, and was pinned in the quarterfinal bout, one match away from states.
“I hated it so bad for Alldyn,” said Snethen. “He wrestled hard and he’s such a tough kid.”
McDowell freshman Preston Dennison (160 pounds) scored a couple of victories. Dennison pinned West Charlotte’s Philip Kpa in the opening round. In the second round, Dennison was pinned by Mallard Creek’s Jordan Norman, the eventual champion.
In the consolation bracket, Dennison (21-20) defeated Hopewell’s Aiden McGrew 8-2 before falling to Olympic’s Maxwell Brown.
Sophomore Trevor Kettles (220) made a similar run in his weight class. Kettles opened with a first-period pin of West Meck’s Colby Smith. In the second round, Kettles, like Dennison, was pinned by the eventual champ, Ardrey Kell’s Ishmael Williams.
In the consolation bracket, Kettles (23-22) scored a third-period pin over Lake Norman’s Nyjel Goss. But South Caldwell’s Steven Warren pinned Kettles in the next round.
Dalton Byerly (152) pinned Providence’s Jeffrey Shao in the opening round, but dropped a 15-0 technical fall to Hough’s Luke Kucko in the second round.
Byerly (26-26) won his first consolation bout, pinning West Charlotte’s Watkins Estime. But Lake Norman’s Ian Dabiero ended Byerly’s tourney with a pinfall win in the next round.
Calvin Stevenson (138, 16-17) won one bout for the Titans, while Joseph Thomas (113, 20-24) recorded a win via forfeit in his weight class.
“It was a tough weekend with a lot of guys falling in the quarterfinals,” said Snethen. “The team as a whole has done well. Most of the guys’ seasons ended sadly, but I can’t say enough about these guys. I’m proud of them and can’t wait to see where we go next year.”
First-round bouts in the State 4A Championships are set to begin at 4 p.m. Thursday in Greensboro. Finn will open against Northern Guilford’s Lake Price (36-13), the Midwest Regional’s third seed. Morgan’s first bout is against Success Odoemena (29-2) of Rocky River, the Midwest Regional champion. The championships continue through Saturday evening.