Surry Central brings back wrestling tournament

By Jeff Linville -

DOBSON — After missing last year, Surry Central brought back the Jimmy Martin Classic wrestling tournament Saturday.

Several unexpected things prevented schools a year ago from attending the event, named for the Central assistant wrestling coach who passed away several years ago.

“It was a day of good local wrestling,” said Central coach Stephen Priddy. “It’s a way to honor Jimmy with what he loved, which was to be out there on the mats.”

On Saturday, North Surry took first place, but Surry Central and East Surry made it tough for the Greyhounds.

North beat East Surry 52-24 in its second dual-team match, but East held a lead for a while. In the finale, the Hounds and Eagles had another close match with Central holding the lead for a while before a very young Hounds team pulled out a 52-27 win.

North Surry coach Jessup said some of his upperclassmen couldn’t be there for the tournament, meaning the Hounds had 11 of the 14 positions filled by either a freshman or sophomore.

“Old Jessup always finds a way,” said Priddy, a longtime friend and high school teammate.

North Surry began the tournament by wrestling each of the Wilkes County teams that made the trip over. The Hounds defeated North Wilkes 46-36 and then downed East Wilkes by a 52-30 score. The matches with East and Central finished out the day for North Surry, which departed with a perfect 9-0 record this season.

“With the young group we’ve got, I really feel like we’re wrestling a little bit over our heads right now,” said Jessup. “We’ve got a lot to work on, but we’re overachieving and working hard.”

Five Hounds ended Saturday’s tournament with perfect 4-0 records: Reid Walker (106 pounds), Quinn Walker (113), Zachery Jones (120), Kobe Slate (132) and Austin McBride (182).

Priddy said he was glad to see East Surry made the trip. The Cardinals have had scheduling issues in the past that kept them from taking part, but “Jimmy always had a lot of respect for Coach (Darren) Haywood.”

“I want to say thank you to everyone that made the Jimmy Martin Classic such a success today,” said Priddy. “I want to especially thank all the ladies for their help today with the hospitality room, either with fixing food or working in it.

“Thanks to Hank Whitaker for the great T-shirts this year. We still have T-shirts available. Also want to thank everyone that took time out of their day to work in the concession stand. Last, I want to thank the guys for wrestling so hard and leaving it all out in the wrestling mat.”

A year ago, Central canceled the event after some teams backed out. A couple of teams were short-handed because wrestlers were still playing football. Another team had a coaching change and chose not to attend. Priddy said it was great to bring the classic back this year.

The only downside on the day was a bad injury to a North Wilkes wrestler. While going against Central freshman Matthew White, Devin Nichols went face down on the canvas and didn’t move.

“Nobody saw exactly what happened,” said Priddy.

An initial call to the Surry County EMS stated that the wrestler couldn’t feel his legs. Nichols was put in a neck brace and was carted out of the gym and taken south to Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital in Elkin. The last that Priddy had heard was that the boy’s neck was okay, but he had suffered a concussion and will have to go through the concussion protocol before he can return to action.

As for the rest of the day, Priddy said the other coaches all agreed that they got what they wanted for the teams: mat time against quality opponents so that they can learn and get better.

Priddy said he had five boys that didn’t lose a match on the day. Kaleb Dunn (220 pounds) and Danny Mata (who wrestled both 145 and 152) were both 4-0. Heavyweight David Pena and Angel Alvarez (138 and 145) were both 3-0 with a rest. Tyler Whitaker split time with Alvarez at 138 and went 2-0. Michael Branch (182 and 195) went 3-1 on the day.

Next weekend is the big Blackhawk event at West Wilkes. Named for the founding wrestling coach, the C.H. Necessary Individual Tournament brings in some of the best wrestling teams in the West.

Before that, Priddy said his squad has a match with East Wilkes on Tuesday.

North Surry’s next match will be Tuesday at Davie County. The Hounds will also be at the C.H. Necessary event next weekend. East Surry returns to action on Thursday with a quad at Lexington High School. Carver and Eastern Randolph will also be competing in that event.

Jeff Linville is managing editor for The Mount Airy News. Follow him on Twitter @SportsDudeJeff.

By Jeff Linville

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