‘New, tougher region’ keeps Raiders away from states

By: By Leon Hargrove Jr. - Sports Editor

WINSTON-SALEM — Competing in a “new, tougher region” this time around resulted in the Richmond wrestling team missing out on the opportunity to send at least one of its wrestlers to the state championships.

A handful came close but none were able to finish in the top four of their respective weight classes, and the Raiders’ season officially came to an end at the 4A Midwest Regionals — held at Glenn High School — this past Saturday.

Junior Skylar Standridge, according to head coach Earl Nicholson, was within 30 seconds of qualifying for states in the 220-pound weight class before Joshua Martinez (Glenn) scored a late takedown to win 2-1 in the consolation semifinals. Prior to that match, Standridge had won two consecutive consolation bouts after falling to Anthony Olmedo (Davie) in the quarterfinals.

Sophomore Steven Morales also bowed out of the regionals in the consolation semis, losing a 13-1 major decision to Davie’s Nick Gillis. He started his day off in the 120 class with a bye in round one, was pinned by Northwest Guilford’s Shane Chavis in the quarterfinals, and then won by pinfall over Page’s Jed Darnell and West Forsyth’s Evan Labella in the consolation rounds leading up to the defeat to Gillis.

Both Zachariah Hamilton (138 lbs) and Joey Nicholson (106 lbs) placed seventh in their respective classes, falling two matches short of advancing to the state competition. Hamilton, a junior, lost a close 13-11 decision to East Forsyth’s Joseph Ross and Joey Nicholson, a sophomore, ended up being pinned by a familiar opponent in Pinecrest’s Benjamin Baker.

They were able to grab two victories on the day, however.

Hamilton won by technical fall, 18-3, over Reagan’s Timmothy Langston in the first round and then pinned Northwest Guilford’s Dontrey King in the second round of the consolation bracket. Joey Nicholson received a bye to start and also won by a technical fall — an 18-1 decision over R.J. Reynold’s Christian Ledford — in the consolation’s second round.

Those four Raiders combined for 21 points on the day: Hamilton (6.5), Morales (6), Standridge (6), Joey Nicholson (2.5). The only other wrestlers to bring home points for Richmond were Austin Gallops (3) and Marcus Hester (3).

“I feel that if we would have been in our old region, we would have sent at least three (wrestlers) to the states. By competing in the Midwest region, where all the school systems have middle school wrestling and numerous AAU wrestling clubs in the area, it’s going to be hard for us to compete,” Earl Nicholson said.

Of the six counties represented in the Sandhills Athletic Conference, the well-tenured coach says that Richmond County is one of the two that doesn’t have a middle school wrestling program. Which in turn, he believes, keeps the Raiders behind.

“Hopefully we will start seriously thinking about starting a middle school program in Richmond County. Moore, Scotland, Cumberland and Hoke counties all have them,” he added. “It’s really tough seeing your wrestlers do everything right and still lose due to lack of knowledge and lack of experience.”

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.

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By Leon Hargrove Jr.

Sports Editor