The Northwestern 3A/4A Conference wrestling tournament held true to the form the league set in the regular season as far as the top three seeds were concerned.
Regular-season champs St. Stephens ran away with the tourney title as well, while Alexander Central placed second and the McDowell Titans third at Alexander Central Saturday.
“Overall, I was pleased with them,” said Titans head coach Tim Hutchins. “We were third in the regular season and third in the tournament. Alexander Central has got some tough kids in the upper weights. We lost some close matches, but we won some close ones, too.”
The Titans landed four wrestlers in the finals of their respective weight classes, and ended up with one conference champion, undefeated 126-pounder Toney McGee.
The Titans scored 125.5 points as a team to place behind St. Stephens (191.5) and Alexander Central (171). Freedom (101.5), Hickory (57), South Caldwell (45) and Watauga (14) rounded out the scoring.
McGee, who wasn’t seriously threatened in a league match all season, dispatched Alexander Central’s Dylan Williams via a 19-3 technical fall in the finals. It was the second conference championship of McGee’s career.
Three other Titans finished second.
Channing Watson was pinned by Freedom’s Spencer Leonhardt in the second period in the 145-pound final. Connor Good (160) was pinned by Alexander Central’s Ethan Lewis in the title match. And Josh Morgan (182) was pinned by St. Stephens’ Dakota Metcalf in the second period of the championship bout.
Three Titans won their consolation finals matches to claim third place.
Calvin Stevenson (106) pinned Freedom’s Brandon Lindsay in the third period to capture third. Alldyn Conley (120) scored a second-period pin of Alexander Central’s Chase Treadway. And Daniel Maynor (138) won by forfeit over Chase Warren of Alexander Central.
Several Titans narrowly missed taking third-place honors.
Jacob Phillips (152), still trying to overcome the lingering effects of a late-season knee injury, fell to St. Stephens’ Ivan Vergel 4-3 in the consolation finals of what was far and away the event’s toughest weight class.
Toby Finn (113) dropped a narrow 4-3 decision to Tanner Hoosier of Alexander Central in the third-place match. Joe Hullette (220) lost 5-1 to Watauga’s Ben Oakes. Dante Quitman (132) was pinned by Freedom’s Colby Miller in the consolation finals.
In all, 11 of the 14 Titans who wrestled placed in the tournament.
St. Stephens led the way with five conference champions. The Indians also had two runners-up. Alexander Central had four champions and led all teams with eight grapplers in the finals. Freedom had three champions.
Hickory’s Chris Cohen, who waded through a loaded field at 152 pounds, claimed Most Outstanding Wrestler honors. Cohen won a 10-1 decision over South Caldwell’s Dustin Herman in the finals.
Other weight-class champions were Alexander Central’s Charlie Lee (106), Freedom’s Clay Beach (113), St. Stephens’ Graham Ormond (120), McGee, St. Stephens’ Blake Baker (132), St. Stephens’ Eddie Brannock (138), Leonhardt, Lewis, Alexander Central’s Christian Romero (170), Metcalf, St. Stephens’ Salvador Gilvaja (195), Alexander Central’s Marterion Howell (220) and Freedom’s James Boyd (285).
Up next for the Titans (27-7) is the State 4A dual team tournament. McDowell is on the road Tuesday at Mallard Creek (5 p.m.). The Titans will wrestle Lake Norman in the first round. Mallard Creek and Porter Ridge will face off in the other first-round match.