Stone, CCHS fall in regional team duals

Feb. 3—Brian Parker and Brad Eich came into last week's Region 3 A Dual Team Championships not sure exactly how their teams would perform.

Parker, the Stone Memorial wrestling coach; and Eich, the head man at Cumberland County; knew they had talented teams, but the rosters were filled with youth and inexperience. In addition, Stone and CCHS hadn't wrestled for almost two weeks prior to the duals due to school being out because of snow.

And if that wasn't enough, the Jets and the Panthers would be facing two powerhouse teams — Samuel Everett and Alcoa — in the four-team field.

The Jets opened with Samuel Everett and fell by a score of 55-24, while Stone Memorial tackled Alcoa and came away with a 59-24 loss.

"The teams in the field were great teams and their coaches do a good job," Eich said. "The duals are kind of like an elimination contest. You have to win to keep going. I am really proud of our team, and we deserved to be there.

"We didn't win the dual, but I was pleased with how we competed. You roll into a night like that, while we had only a few days of practice, so I was pleased with our effort. They went out there and they wrestled hard."

CCHS dropped the first four matches of its contest with SESI, falling into a 22-0 hole. However, the Jets got on the board with James Lawson beating Logan Counts at 165 pounds and Benjamin Hulburt taking down Kendal Click at 175 pounds.

The two teams split the next two matches with Cumberland County's victory coming when James Johnson topped Jonathan Joyal at 215 pounds. The Jets' final win came at 106 pounds when Deacon Shockley toped Colton Jenkins.

"We talked about it at the beginning of the year of how when we come to the end of the season I wanted to be able to say I have a team of hard working kids that improved," Eich said. "I can truly say we've showed our hard work and our improvement in the duals, and I am really proud of our team."

Stone Memorial didn't fare much better with Alcoa. The Panthers picked up some victories early in the match, but still came out on the short end of a 59-24 decision.

Jack Nealey got Stone's first win with a victory over Silas Ropert at 113 pounds. Isaiah McCulley followed that up with a forfeit win at 120 pounds.

Bradeck Cole downed Caleb Carrington to give Stone at win at 126 pounds, and Trenton Duncan defeated Alcoa's Patrick Collins at 150 pounds to earn Stone's final win of the day.

"There really is not a lot to say," Parker said. "Alcoa beat us by six points in December. We had to beat them this time to get into the region finals, but this time around they were able to make some adjustments to their lineup and beat us handily."

Parker said Alcoa had a starter return to the lineup since the last time they wrestled which allowed AHS to shift several players down.

"They got a forfeit at 106 because we don't have one," Parker said. "It also put two of their better kids on two of our better kids at 132 and 138 pounds, where they prevailed in both. That 34-point swing made it impossible for us to win."

Now, Cumberland County and Stone Memorial must prepare for the Individual Region Championships scheduled Feb. 10 at Heritage High School in Maryville.

"Our focus has now shifted to doing whatever we can to get these kids ready to wrestle their best individual matches," said Eich, who pointed out the hard work of Shockley and Jack Monchecourt in the team duals.

"Now the team score is not that big of a deal. We want these kids to be the best versions of themselves they can be. Now, it is win or go home."

The individual region format is where each team can have only one wrestler at each weight class.

"I am very proud of our young team," Parker said. "We won the district and we placed third in the region. We will now focus on preparing for the individual regions, sectionals and, hopefully, substate."