The UNCP wrestling team faced off against the nationally ranked Wolves of Newberry College in their final home dual meet of the 2017-2018 season before the postseason.
The Braves improved to 11-10 on the season and 4-1 in Eastern College Athletic Conference with their dominant victory over the 14th ranked team on senior night. The Black and Gold upset the Wolves 23-14 behind some gritty performances from start to finish on Feb. 9 on Guaranty Bank Court in front of a rambunctious home crowd.
Once again, freshman Nick Daggett kicked off the night in an electric fashion with a 17-10 decision victory at the 125-pound weight class. Sophomore Jayquon McEntyre followed that up in the 133-pound division with decisive 4-3 decision win that he achieved by riding out his opponent for the entire third period to put the Braves up 6-0.
“Huge matches by two young guys that we’re looking forward to having bright futures in our program,” Head coach Othello “O.T.” Johnson said of the tenacity his pair of underclassmen showed in the first two bouts of the night.
The Wolves would cut the Braves’ lead to just two, following a major decision defeat suffered by freshman Luke McDonough at 141, but sophomore Tyler Makosy would respond with a wild final two periods to notch a 7-2 decision victory to put UNCP up 9-4.
Newberry would once again reduce the home team’s lead to two after senior Eric Milks’ controversial triple overtime loss at the 157-pound weight class.
“Even though there was controversy in the match, I’m not upset by it, but it just gives me something to look forward to at regionals. Yeah it sucks, but in the future, I know what I have to look for and what to do later,” Milks said.
A no-entry forfeit at 165 extended the Black and Gold’s lead to 15-7, which was succeeded by an exciting match at 174 that was highlighted by an astounding backflip by a nimble Joey Rocca from Newberry, but acrobatic maneuvers proved to be futile as redshirt sophomore, Brandon Sloop, muscled his way to an 11-3 major decision win. I
n what was the most exciting match of the evening, for both the crowd and bench, junior Feris Teia once again put on a takedown clinic with his 15-3 major decision victory that was the Braves’ last win on the night.
The visiting Wolves would pick up a pair of decision and major decision wins at the 197 and 285-pound weight classes, but by then their defeat was well in hand and they would return to South Carolina licking their wounds.
“At the beginning of the season we didn’t have that connection, and then as we started going through the season we built cohesion amongst us, and we saw how hard we all work together and that’s what builds it to this point,” Milks said.
“Now we’re at a point to where we can trust one another and that we just stand behind everyone so that when one person steps on the mat it’s like we all step out on the mat.”