ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond wrestling team didn’t finish first as a team but saw a number of promising individual performances at its season-opening meet, the Raider Rumble, on Saturday morning.
Brandon Nifong went undefeated on the day — as did Luckey Cale in his two bouts — while Austin Cowick, Isaiah Davenport, Steven Morales and Joey Nicholson each only finished with one loss in their respective battles.
Richmond would place third overall, in an eight-team meet, behind Lumberton and Asheboro, respectively. It grabbed wins over Anson (58-24), Douglas Byrd (48-33) and Southwestern Randolph (50-28), but fell to the Pirates (54-24) and the Blue Comets (57-22).
“We placed where I expected us to place. The win against SW Randolph was a really good win for us,” head coach Earl Nicholson said. “We lost the Lumberton match but there were three or four matches that were toss-ups. We were winning, they were winning, but they ended up coming out on top in all of them. We can close that gap on them for sure.”
Nifong made his presence felt with pins over every opponent he faced, scoring falls over Crew Allred (Asheboro), Jawon Hough (Anson) and Gage Thompson (Douglas Byrd) in the 182-pound weight class. The senior moved up a class to batttle Jafet Machado (SW Randolph) and pinned him as well.
Lumberton didn’t have anyone to wrestle in the 182 class, giving Nifong the win by forfeit.
“He’s just building right off of last year, when he weighed 170 (pounds) wrestling at 182 and started to win a lot of matches,” Nicholson said. “We’ve got to have what we call ‘hammers — those six points we know we’re going to get. We’ve got to get couple more guys like that.”
Cale took care of business in the 106 weight class, by pinning both Josh Tyson (Anson) and Dominique Bonner (Douglas Byrd), when Joey Nicholson was needed in the 113 class — where he won both matches by pin fall.
Out of his five scheduled bouts at 120, Davenport only wrestled twice. He lost when the team faced off against Asheboro, but was one of only two Raiders — who actually wrestled — to grab a win over Lumberton.
After being pinned by Mikale McClendon (Anson), Morales bounced back to defeat his next three opponents and then add his last win courtesty of a SW Randolph forfeit at the 126 weight.
Cowick’s only loss of the day was to Sabeon Campbell (Douglas Byrd). His three wins were over Sam Cornwall (Asheboro) and Alexander Madina (SW Randolph), both by pin fall at 132, and another forfeit.
“We got compliments from a lot of coaches saying that our techniques were great. Now we’ve just got to get the strength and drive to go with it,” Nicholson added. “We took video of all the matches and we’re going to show the guys the mistakes they were making.”
Richmond will travel to Asheboro for another multi-team dual on Saturday.
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. by phone at 910-817-2673 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For stories, scores and updates, follow the Daily Journal’s sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.