ROCKINGHAM — It was another flawless day for senior Brandon Nifong, who pinned all four of his opponents in convincing fashion, but the Raider wrestling team fell short in its quest for a sweep.
Richmond hosted the Raider Rumble 2 on Saturday and was able to take care of Douglas Byrd (54-30), East Montgomery (66-18) and Seventy-First (52-30) in its first three matches. When they faced off against Holly Springs to end the day, however, the Raiders only won five matches in a 53-27 loss — their second consecutive second-place finish.
“I liked our performance overall. Guys are still getting better every match and everything went as I expected,” head coach Earl Nicholson said. “I thought we gave up a couple of points against Holly Springs that could’ve made it a little bit closer, but I don’t know if we would’ve beat them.”
Once again, Nifong dominated the 182-pound weight class with wins over Shaun Graham (Douglas Byrd), William Martinez (71st), Alex Smith (East Montgomery) and Matthew Rolon (Holly Springs) — whom he pinned in the first 10 seconds of the match.
The senior boasts a 14-0 record so far this season.
Marcus Hester and Joey Nicholson were the other two Raiders who went unbeaten Saturday, as both wrestlers won by pin fall in two matches and by forfeit in their other two bouts.
Hester defeated Gabriel Carrington (71st) and Antwan Church (Douglas Byrd) at the 138 weight, while Nicholson took down Royal Hamilton (Douglas Byrd) in the 113 class and Nathaniel Wright (Holly Springs) at 106.
“I hope they really do become hammers. I’m not convinced yet,” Nicholson said with a laugh. “You’ve got to have at least five guys you can count on, so you know you’ve got 30 points going into a match. It makes coaching easy when you’ve got those hammers in the lineup.”
Senior Tommy Shelton, who made his season debut at Asheboro two Saturdays ago, was on his way to sweeping the day after strong performances in his first three matches. In his last bout, however, he fell to Holly Springs’ Joshua Lehr — a N.C. State recruit.
“He followed our game plan and gave him a great battle,” Nicholson said. “I told him whenver he got a chance, he had to take it…and he almost took him.”
Richmond was scheduled to host a tri-meet Wednesday evening but it has since been cancelled. The Raiders will be back in action Saturday morning for a multi-dual meet at Anson.
“We’re doing good, but the big thing we’ve got to work on is — at this point of the season, we’ve got 62 pins for us and we’ve given up 61 (pins),” Nicholson added. “In order for us to become an elite team, we’ve got to turn that into a 75-25 percent ratio. Right now it’s 50-50 and that’s not going to get us to the playoffs.”
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. by phone at 910-817-2673 or by email at [email protected] For stories, scores and updates, follow the Daily Journal’s sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.