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Vipers earn first team win at Webb, lose to Carrboro

Jan. 5—OXFORD — Vance County earned its first team win of the season Thursday night when they traveled to battle J.F. Webb and Carrboro High School in a tri-team matchup.

Vance lost to Carrboro but earned second place with their 36-30 win over Webb, spoiling the Warriors' Senior Night.

Only five varsity wrestlers started for Vance County — Antoine and Charles Doyle, Seth Williams, Jamonté Youngs and La'Nautica Johnson. Clarence Debnam was inactive with a shoulder injury — but every Viper that wrestled won their first bout via pin.

"I'm standing on business [next] Saturday," said Debnam, referring to Vance County's upcoming home meet against Louisburg on Jan. 10.

Antoine, the older Doyle brother, chucked a Warriors wrestler in his second match. The Vance County varsity football player tackled his opponent and went airborne as he body slammed him to the mat. Webb coaches covered their mouths to hide their reactions.

Vance was outnumbered five to Carrboro's 14 wrestlers; and despite winning every match, they lost by default, 59-36, due to a lack of wrestlers. Thursday was the first time the Jaguars featured a full lineup since its 2016 State Championship team.

Carrboro head coach Tim Walker was sporting the "dual-team drip" — a gold chain with a crown pendant that reads "Hustler" — that he wears for every team-versus-team matchup. Vance County assistant coach Quincy Talley was also dripped out, but not as a team tradition.

Walker credited the "welcoming" nature of Carrboro High School as a key component to the performance, participation, and culture of its wrestling team.

"[Wrestling] is the hardest sport that you could possibly do in high school," said Walker. "There's a lot of grit that you can build up from this sport. There's so many life lessons."

Carrboro just hired a new athletic director, Jon Evans, who is determined to build a "contagious culture." Carrboro coaches across sports meet several times a season to learn from each other, according to Walker.

Vance County's Jamonté Youngs, who has been on a losing streak as of late, bounced back with two pins on Thursday night.

"Every time he lost, you could see how mad he was, and how dedicated he was in practice the next day," said his teammate, Maurice Jackson, who also plays nose tackle for the Vance County football team.

Youngs pinned first-year wrestler Gus Larson — a Carrboro senior with a curly, purple mullet.

"It's very physically demanding, it's a lot of work, but it feels rewarding," said Larson. "We haven't won much this season, it's a big motivation boost."

In an exhibition match, Jackson pinned Jaguar's varsity team captain Bennett Whitt — a junior and self-proclaimed "nerd" who enjoys listening to "power metal." Whitt is a tennis player and AP student at Carrboro High.

"First half, I wasn't wrestling as well as I thought I could, but the second half, I got my act together," said Whit, who was pinned by Maurice Jackson in under two minutes.

Jackson earned his first-ever varsity win over Whitt two years ago while attending South Granville. Whitt is a strong wrestler working on improving his confidence, according to his head coach.

Jackson and Charles Doyle will face off in the wrestling room on Friday to determine who will be the heavyweight starter against Louisburg. Jackson and Doyle both believe Jackson will have an edge to win the starting job.

"I'm very proud," said Walker. "Webb is a fantastic school and [Vance County] put in a lot of hard work. I just feel blessed with what we had tonight."