Morales, Nicholson combine for more than half of the Raiders’ points in wrestling tourney

By: By Leon Hargrove Jr. - Sports Editor

CHARLOTTE — The Richmond wrestling team, without four of its starters, finished ninth at the E.B. Memorial Clash at Mallard Creek behind strong performances from sophomores Steven Morales and Joey Nicholson.

Morales, who’s 17-3 on the season, placed second in the 120-pound weight class and scored 20 points for the Raiders. He received a bye in the first round before winning by pin fall over Cooper Strange (Woodmont) and William Cline (Providence) in the quarterfinal and semifinal, respectively. In the championship match, Morales was pinned by Joey Ricco (Providence Day).

Nicholson, who has won 21 of his 24 matches this year, finished fourth and grabbed 13 points in the 106-pound weight class. He would also have a first-round bye before pinning Javon White (Salisbury) in the quarterfinal and then losing to Tommy Capul (Marvin Ridge) in the semfinal. Nicholson defeated Amin Bakhatari (Providence) in the consolation semis, but lost to Nate Burage (East Rowan) by decision in the third-place match.

The combined 33 points from Morales and Nicholson were more than half of the points Richmond scored (61) last Friday in the 17-team tournament. They carried the load for the team while starters Brandon Nifong, Christian Priest, Tommy Shelton and Skylar Standridge were missing from the lineup.

“Even without those starters, we managed to be competitive,” head coach Earl Nicholson said. “With those guys, we could’ve easily placed fourth or higher — assuming each of those guys would have scored at a minimum 10 team points.”

Marcus Hester, Zachariah Hamilton, Austin Gallop and Jordan Ratliff were responsible for the Raiders’ other 28 points. Hester scored a third-best 10 team points, both Hamilton and Gallop racked up seven team points and Ratliff added four.

Hester started off with a win by pin fall over Aidan Lorsson (Providence Day) in the first round, lost to Will Valade (Glenn) in the quarterfinal and then bounced back with back-to-back pins in his consulation matches. He was defeated by Cliff Riccardi (Myers Park) in the consulation semis.

Both Hamilton and Gallop pinned their respective opponents in the opening round and picked up another victory in the second round of the consulation bracket. Ratliff’s only win was in the first round — a pin over Sebastian Loeza (North Mecklenburg).

Richmond will compete in the Holy Angels Tournament on Wednesday, Dec. 27, and Thursday, Dec. 28, at Charlotte Catholic High School.

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.

By Leon Hargrove Jr.

Sports Editor