Warhorses beat Wolverines through forfeits on mat

Published 6:06 pm Monday, January 13, 2014

Damion Cantrell just before pinning his opponent.

Damion Cantrell just before pinning his opponent.

If points were awarded only for bouts actually fought, Polk County High School wrestlers would have feasted on Owen on Friday night, Jan. 10 winning seven of 10 head-to-head matches.

As it was, however, four forfeit losses by the Wolverines helped the War Horses return to Black Mountain with a 42-28 win.

In spite of the Wolverines‘ 8-12 mark, and in spite of his hating to lose, Polk coach Phillip Miller weathered the night well.

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“I’m pleased,” said Miller. “When you win seven out of 10 (matches), I’m pleased with the kids.”

Miller said to advance in post-season competition, the Wolverines must win their remaining conference meets. Given that the Wolverines have faced their three toughest opponents and that this team is improving quickly, it’s possible for Polk to finish in the top two in the conference, and qualify for further team competition.

Regardless of Friday’s final score, Polk fans witnessed some breathtaking battles, particularly at 145, 170 and 195 pounds. At 145, the Wolverines’ Anthony Marino scored two third-period points, and outlasted a determined Colby Maloney, 5-2.

Damion Cantrell, last year’s third-place finisher in South Carolina, and a transfer student at Polk, began the year sidelined with an injury, but is regaining his old form. At 170, he faced Owen’s Ezekiel Johnston, who entered the match 17-1 on the season.

Against Johnston, Cantrell earned a 6-4 lead after the first period, and battled to an 8-6 victory after Johnston scored a late takedown. Miller knows that Cantrell is not quite in top condition yet, but “he wrestled (and defeated) the two best kids in the conference this week.” Last Wednesday, in Polk’s 51-19 loss to Avery County, Cantrell earned a 16-9 decision over Brennan Clark.

With Friday’s meet beginning with 195-pounders, Polk’s Jerry Cox gutted out a 5-4 decision over Tucker Lowery, giving the Wolverines a quick three points. One match later, however, at 225, the lead switched. Polk’s Marquise Lipscomb fought Taylor Earley through a scoreless first period, before Earley pinned Lipscomb. Polk took a 9-6 lead when Chase McMurray pinned Owen’s Carter Groves at 285. Vacancies in the lighter weights cost the Wolverines, who gave up forfeits at 106, 113 and 132 (Polk also forfeited at 160).

It wasn’t any better at 120, where Owen’s Even Briggs pinned Gabe O’Brien. However, at 126, freshman Chase (“Little Chase”) Emory scored his 24th win of the season, with a 7-4 decision over Cory Maloney. Polk added four more points at 138, where Dustin Calvert earned a 9-1 major decision over Waleed Kahlil. Marino’s decision and Franklin Sandoval’s pin of Thomas Neal at 152 pounds, cut Owen’s lead to 30-25, but a forfeit loss at 160 put the visitors up, 36-25. Cantrell got three points, but at 182, Owen’s Aaron Steinel pinned Ryan Badger.

In Polk’s loss to Avery last Wednesday, Jan. 8 the Wolverines got wins from Badger (decision), McMurray (pin), Emory (major decision), Marino (decision) and Cantrell. Miller’s team visits Hendersonville on Friday, Jan. 17 and hosts Mountain Heritage on Jan. 24, for the last regular-season meet.